UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn makes outlandish claim about CTE

UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn made a short yet incendiary claim about CTE, a brain injury that's long been associated with fighting and contact sports.

By: Milan Ordoñez | 4 months ago
UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn makes outlandish claim about CTE
IMAGO | agefotostock

UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn got himself back in the headlines with some outrageous claims. This time, “The Prodigy” sparked a bit of controversy about a topic that’s long been associated with the sport: Chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE

Penn’s statements were a response to a random commenter on his social media page. 

UFC Hall of Famer claims CTE is as fake as COVID

B.J. Penn’s Instagram page these days is mostly about his political views. A lot of it can easily come off as outrageous and incendiary, which also prompts responses of puzzlement and concern. 

Penn’s questionable statements through his posts made others wonder about the possibility of brain injury. The former UFC champion then fired back with this. 

Based on his other responses, it’s either Penn is completely oblivious about CTE, or he refuses to believe it.

CTE Penn

CTE in prizefighting

Recent findings immediately disprove Penn’s claim. A 2022 study revealed that 72 out of the 176 participants that competed in boxing and MMA showed signs of traumatic encephalopathy syndrome (TES). In March, a neuroscientist also spoke with Bloody Elbow, stating that CTE could likewise become prevalent among Power Slap competitors. 

Right now, CTE can only be officially diagnosed through an autopsy. However, many former fighters have reportedly shown documented signs of the disease, which include memory loss, impulse control problems, aggression, impaired judgment, and confusion, among others. 

MMA veteran and consensus legend Mark Hunt, for one, revealed dealing with some of these symptoms in a 2017 interview. And recently, multiple-time Fight of the Night winner Spencer Fisher did a tell-all where he bared his current struggles from years of being battered and bruised in the Octagon. 

But for UFC president Dana White, it’s all ‘part of the gig.’ 

“He’s not the first and he’s definitely not going to be the last. This is a contact sport and anybody who’s done this younger, myself included, is dealing with brain issues.”

Penn’s history of questionable statements

After his UFC release in 2019, Penn decided to enter politics in his native Hawaii. In May 2022, he officially entered the gubernatorial race. And even with the endorsement of megastar Nate Diaz, Penn lost the Hawaii primary by a wide margin. He of course refused to concede and cried foul for alleged ballot tampering

It was also around this time when Penn began making headlines because of outrageous statements. At the height of the COVID pandemic, he blasted the Hawaii government for imposing lockdows as cautionary measures. 

And when he claimed to have contracted the virus, Penn made a questionable suggestion on how to deal with the rising hospitalization rate at the time. 

“I know I’m not a doctor, I know I’m not a scientist. I took oregano oil and I breathe oregano oil. There’s a lot of people with a lot of different ways to do it. My friend did something like Joe Rogan did. But I always choose oregano oil, I love that stuff.”

B.J. Penn’s UFC career

Outside of these statements, Penn will be known for his lengthy UFC career, for better or worse. He was undoubtedly a force to reckon with in his early years, both as a lightweight and welterweight. Penn holds notable victories over the likes of Matt Serra, Matt Hughes, Renzo Gracie, and Georges St-Pierre. 

His later years beginning in 2011 weren’t as glorious. After the beating he took from Nick Diaz, Penn racked up loss after loss against the likes of Rory MacDonald, Frankie Edgar, Yair Rodriguez, Dennis Siver, and Ryan Hall. In 2015, he was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.

Penn, now 44, last fought at UFC 237 against Clay Guida in May 2019 and lost via decision. He ended his career with a record of 16-14-2.

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About the author
Milan Ordoñez
Milan Ordoñez

Milan Ordoñez has been covering combat sports since 2012 and has been part of the Bloody Elbow staff since 2016. He’s also competed in amateur mixed martial arts and submission grappling tournaments.

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