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Penn Earns Spot in UFC Hall of Fame

May 27, 2015, 5:09 PM HST
* Updated May 27, 5:16 PM
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B.J. Penn doesn’t need extra validation to verify his accomplishments both inside and outside of the octagon, but he definitely appreciates it.

Penn, a past champion in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s lightweight and welterweight divisions, can now add another title to his UFC resume: Hall of Famer.

The UFC announced Saturday during its UFC 187 prelims that Penn, along with Bas Rutten and Jeff Blatnick, will be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame during a ceremony in Las Vegas on July 11.

“You know what, it is amazing,” said Penn during a media tour on Oahu Wednesday. “Everybody’s talking about it so much, it’s almost like, ‘Hey, man, you guys lining me up for a fight or something?’ It’s just real big news. What a way to top it off at the end.”

When he says the end, he means it. He spurned two different retirement announcements to to return to the UFC octagon, only to lose in both bouts. This retirement, however, is definitely final.

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“I haven’t trained in the last year, and I’ve just been hanging out with the family and with the kids, and enjoying doing the other stuff that I’ve been doing around town, whatever little jobs that I have for myself to do. I’m just back to normal life, I guess,” Penn said.

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It doesn’t mean that Penn’s walking away from the sport entirely, especially with a UFC Gym bearing his name on Oahu and the Penn Fitness and Training Center location in Hilo. Some of the top names in the sport have come to Hawai’i to train with him in the past, and he wouldn’t be opposed to continuing to work with them in the future.

“I don’t mind at all,” Penn stated when asked if he would be interested in coaching in the future. “I don’t mind training somebody or someone’s got questions, or this-and-that. The tough thing is that if you want to train a guy and take him to the top to the highest level, he’s gotta go out and train at a different place. I think a lot of it has to do with where I’m located, all the way over there in Hawai’i.”

Penn was 16-10-2 in his 13-year mixed martial arts career. He enters the Modern Era category of the UFC Hall of Fame, recognizing fighters who turned professional after Nov. 17, 2000, when the Unified Rules of Mixed Martial Arts were created and adopted.

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“It is our honor to induct BJ Penn into the UFC Hall of Fame,” said UFC president Dana White in a statement. “He was one of those stars who helped build the UFC. When we bought this company, we were told no-one cared about lightweights. BJ Penn not only made people care, he was one of the biggest draws in UFC history. And what he accomplished inside the Octagon speaks for itself – he is one of only two people to win two UFC titles in two different divisions and he beat a who’s who of his era. He is a legend and a no-brainer for the UFC Hall of Fame.”

Rutten will be inducted into the Pioneer Era category, and Blatnick will enter as a contributor. The UFC Hall of Fame will also recognize one of the top bouts in the company’s history, the second meeting between Matt Hughes and Frank Trigg from April 16, 2005.

Penn is currently on a two-day tour of Oahu with the UFC, talking with different media outlets and making various appearances. Joining him on the tour is Waianae’s Max Holloway, who has won six straight bouts and accumulated a 13-3 MMA record.

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