People always give me drama when I say B.J. Penn is not an all-time great. I say, “In tough situations, he does not find a way to pull out the win. He lost to Huges via broken rip, and to GSP via getting tired.” Unlike, say, Fedor, who always finds a way to win. Slam him, daze him, do anything to him; he’ll still find a way to win. That’s greatness. It’s more than just ability. Finding a way to win is what makes a champion.
I was reminded of that when reading a Mark Spitz quote about Michael Phelps: “I think that the relationship between people that are great is they have a common thread of knowing how to beat their competitors and they know how to constantly be in shape and in top form,” Spitz told the Daily News.
Makes perfect sense when you think about it. It perfectly describes a champion.
Hell, look at the Phelps’ win against the Serb. Phelps was down. He should have lost. He found a way to win. Same thing with Fedor. He finds a way to win.
But BJ Penn? He seems to find a way to lose. Yet people still refer to him as one of the best of all time. Why? Because, in theory, he is the most gifted? Since when does theory become reality in a sport where no one needs to make guesses. You can simply prove yourself in the ring or cage.