B.J. Penn (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)Remember ‘The Prodigy,’ Not the Recent B.J. Penn Sal DeRose July 11, 2014 Spotlight You know those sports movies where the story focuses on a retired player making a comeback? Those films always go the same way. The retired player will somehow, some way, emerge triumphant in that one last go-around. Take Rocky Balboa, for example. The icon of the big screen, portrayed by Sylvester Stallone, came back in the sixth film of the Rocky series after an almost 20-year retirement to fight in an exhibition match against the reigning heavyweight champion. A geriatric Rocky took a beating in the early going, only to later pull it together and almost eke out a split decision victory over Mason Dixon. Despite the early battering, Rocky proved he still had what it took to compete. His one last go-around wasn’t for naught. Well, real life isn’t always like the movies. We need look no further than B.J. Penn for proof of this fact. Penn, in his second un-retirement party, did not enjoy a Rocky-esque return. Yes, much like quarterback Brett Favre’s failure in his final season with the Minnesota Vikings, Penn just didn’t have it anymore. There was nothing left in the former UFC champion’s tank when Frankie Edgar battered, strong-armed and finished the previously unfinishable Penn. Nick Diaz couldn’t do it. Neither could Rory MacDonald. But Edgar finished the trilogy in a way nobody wanted to see happen. He made it clear “The Prodigy” just didn’t belong in the same arena, let alone the same cage, as him on that night. It was a tough pill to swallow, and probably the toughest fight to watch in a while. During the contest, it was clear Penn, who remains the best lightweight in MMA history and one of the best fighters ever, looked very pedestrian. Superman was finally down for the count. For years, Penn looked unbeatable. He decimated the UFC lightweight division and fought opponents much bigger than him. He even captured the UFC welterweight crown during his time in the UFC, before reigning as the promotion’s lightweight champion. Penn was an unstoppable, crazy force of what a true fighter was supposed to be. The Diaz, MacDonald and Edgar fights have all become ugly marks on what was otherwise a very beautiful career. A man who reigning over two divisions in the UFC was left shattered on the cage floor. This is it, Penn’s retirement. Anything after this Edgar fight should be met with a quick and decisive response of “no” in his mind. If Penn feels the itch to fight again, he needs to quell the urge or find a new way to relieve it. After the Diaz fight, it was okay for Penn to have that itch to return and face MacDonald. It was a fight that could be viewed as a changing of the guard. New met old, hype met experience. But after the MacDonald fight, Penn should not have returned to finish a trilogy that had already been decided by two fights in Edgar’s favor. Fight fans and even loyal fans of Penn won’t want to sit through another fight like that. Penn says he is retired, but maybe he’ll feel like he can get back in there and do it again. Everybody has pride, and Penn could certainly look at his last three fights and decide he does not want to go out that way. It has already happened twice now, and maybe, much like Favre, he’ll flip-flop on the decision and take another fight. But he shouldn’t. Watching Penn fight was great. There’s not enough that can be said about the man—he is a legend in the sport. There isn’t an adjective to describe just how great Penn was at his height. This should be it, though. It’s time for Penn to focus on other things as the new guard continues to take over. Sometimes what a legend needs to do is calmly acknowledge that maybe once more would be once too many.