UFC champ BJ Penn humbled by fans

Cheven Calma
Cheven Calma
BJ Penn
BJ Penn
Alicia Rife
Alicia Rife

By Stephen Florino - bio | email

KANEOHE (KHNL) - Hawaii's fighting champ comes to Honolulu in a hero's welcome. Two weeks after a big win in Las Vegas, mixed martial artist BJ Penn meets hundreds of his fans.

It was a mad house. The Hilo native admits even he doesn't realize how bright his star is shining right now.

Hundreds of fans line up for hours.

"Five hours," said Cheven Calma. He and his family were second in line.

"About 3 and a half hours," said Dustin Rife, who was 8th in line.

"Here today cause I wanted to see our favorite fighter BJ Penn," said Calma.

Hilo's BJ Penn, the Prodigy, is humbled by the turnout.

"It's always amazing when you get a great crowd out," he said. "I never know how it is cause I'm in Hilo all the time, so when i come out to the other islands, it's like that's right, fighting, you realize how big it is."

And so is he.

The UFC lightweight champ solidified his status as one of -- if not -- the best pound for pound fighter in the world after beating Sean Sherk two weeks ago.

But it's what he does outside the ring that makes him unique.

"He's pretty laid back," said Alicia Rife. "He's cool. He likes to meet his fans, so it's cool to know he's grateful for the fans he has."

Humble, mellow, and always wants to represent Hawaii, and its people.

"It's pretty cool cause hardly anybody notice us cause we're a small island," said Calma.

"Definitely, it's good to have these people out, that they support me, they believe in me," said Penn. "It's easier for you to do it yourself. You know, when you're out there, so it's important man."

Penn says he already knows who he's fighting next, but he isn't saying yet.

But he promises it will be a good one.