BJ Penn proved his doubters wrong tonight in Auburn Hills, Michigan, by returning to form and scoring a devastating knockout over former rival Matt Hughes.
“The Prodigy” came out of his corner with the urgency of someone who just remembered they left on the iron . He immediately set out to establish his jab and score on the feet, at one point catching a kick delivered by Hughes and countering with a punch. At the 0:21 mark, he unleashed a straight right hand that dropped Hughes to the canvas. The Hilo, Hawaii native then followed up with some ground and pound for good measure, and referee Dan Miragliotta stepped in to halt the action; leaving Hughes to ask his corner, “What happened?.”
An ecstatic Penn ran from the Octagon after helping Hughes to his feet, eventually re-entering for the reading of the official ruling. Penn yelled to the Michigan crowd, “I love you Detroit! I love you UFC! Matt Hughes you’re my idol, you’ve always been my idol! Thank you!” The audience returned the love in kind and cheered for Penn’s sixteenth career victory.
A disappointed Matt Hughes informed the crowd that Penn’s shot landed solid; so much so that Hughes actually thought the was hit with a knee or a kick. He explained that he felt he had a lot on the line for this fight and had trained very hard in preparation for BJ. The 37-year old UFC Hall of Famer admitted after the loss, “I don’t know what the plan is now.”
With the win, Penn improves his record to 16-7-1 and he was also awarded the Knockout of the Night bonus to top off the victory. Hughes falls to 45-8 and will no doubt face questions regarding his retirement, despite his recently broken three-fight winning streak.