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Benson Henderson explains why BJ Penn is the greatest MMA lightweight of all time

Former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson explained why the legend BJ Penn is the greatest MMA lightweight fighter of all time.

Henderson recently defeated Islam Mamedov in a big upset at Bellator 273, in what was the final fight of his Bellator contract. “Smooth” is the former UFC and WEC lightweight champion and the final goal to accomplish in his MMA career is to hold the Bellator lightweight title. Should he win three lightweight titles in three different organizations, there is no doubt Henderson would have to be at the top of the list when you think about the greatest lightweight fighters of all time. As it stands now, he’s likely in the top-20 or so.

One fighter who is universally regarded as one of the best, if not the best lightweight of all time, is Penn. The former UFC lightweight (and welterweight) champion fought the best of the best for nearly two decades in the Octagon, and if you ask Henderson, “Baby Jay” is the greatest lightweight MMA fighter to ever live.

“That’s easy. Hands down, BJ Penn. Not even close. You gotta say this full name with just one word, BJ, you know who he is. The greatest lightweight of all time, hands down, is BJ Penn. You can argue about this and that, you can argue about statistics and who they fought and yada yada yada, but BJ’s the man. I got mad respect for BJ,” Henderson told TMZ Sports.

When asked if Penn had a better career than Khabib Nurmagomedov, who retired from MMA with a perfect 29-0 record, “Smooth” explained why he holds Penn as the gold standard in the lightweight division.

“Go look at the records of the 29 people that he beat, and then go look at the records of who BJ fought and who he lost to,” Henderson said, pointing out that Penn overall fought the tougher competition. “To go 29-0 is a big accomplishment, but as far as I’m concerned, I gotta go with BJ. It’s not even close.”

Do you agree with Benson Henderson that BJ Penn is the greatest lightweight MMA fighter of all time?

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Adam Martin
MMA journalist, podcast host, and handicapper for,, and MMAOB Daily Podcast host. Join me LIVE @ 5 pm EST every Monday for my live free podcast. Over 10 years of experience writing about MMA. I love this sport.