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Biography and Profile of B.J. Penn


Date of Birth:

B.J. Penn was born on December 12, 1978, in Hilo, Hawaii. His real name is Jay Dee.

Training Camp:

BJ Penn’s MMA


The Prodigy and Baby Jay (B.J.)

Martial Arts Background:

Penn has a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu background in that he started honing his submission game when he was 17 years old under Ralph Gracie. Three years later, Andrea Pederneiras gave him his black belt. The speed with which he achieved that black belt plus the gold medal he managed to take home from the World Jiu Jitsu Championships in Rio de Janeiro earned him his nickname, The Prodigy.

Like all MMA fighters, Penn also trains as a stand up fighter. In fact, he is excellent in that capacity as well.

Fighting Style:

B.J. Penn often comes out of the gate strong and has the striking skills and toughness to give anyone a tough time on their feet. However, opponents are still most concerned to hit the ground with him, as his unbelievable submission skills and legendary flexibility make him a threat from any position to end a fight in a moment’s notice.

He is one of the greatest submission fighters of all-time.

B.J. Penn vs. Matt Hughes:

No one gave Penn a chance against UFC Welterweight Champion Matt Hughes when he decided to jump up to welterweight and fight him at UFC 46. After all, Hughes was widely considered to be the most dominant welterweight in UFC history.

But Penn’s jiu jitsu advantage was very apparent when he won that fight by first round rear naked choke. After leaving the UFC to fight in Japan and losing his title because of this, Penn eventually came back to take Hughes on again at UFC 63. Though Penn battered him with strikes early on and almost pulled out a submission in the second round, Hughes came back to win by TKO.

Personal Life:

Penn is the youngest of four brothers. His father is Jay Dee Penn, and his mother is Lorraine Shin. Penn and his girlfriend, Shealen Uaiwa, have a daughter named, Aeva Lilu.

Penn is also one of the authors behind the MMA instructional book, Mixed Martial Arts: The Book of Knowledge.

Five Defining Moments:

  • Penn was the first non-Brazilian native to win gold in the black belt category at the World Jiu Jitsu Championships (also known as the Mundials).
  • His submission victory over Matt Hughes at UFC 46 caused people to realize just how good his submission game was.
  • Lyoto Machida is currently a contender in the UFC light heavyweight division. However, he was unable to stop the much lighter Penn during a decision victory over him in 2005.
  • When Penn defeated Joe Stevenson at UFC 80, he finally achieved the UFC Lightweight Championship belt that had eluded him against Jens Pulver back at UFC 35.
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