Article

BJ Penn - Still Full of Surprises

“There’s nothing like walking to the ring and fighting someone else who’s just as prepared as you are. Not many things will get you as excited after you do that a couple times. Everything else is boring.” - BJ Penn
UFC welterweight BJ PennLife as a homebody just didn’t sit well with BJ Penn. Despite living in a Hawaiian paradise retirees would love to retreat to when their working days were done, at 33, the former two-division UFC champion still had some fight left in him.

“I was just hanging out, and being in the gym is better than sitting on the couch,” he laughed. “It’s kinda like I’m more afraid not to fight than to fight. I didn’t know what to do, I was just sitting around. This (fighting) is all I’ve been doing the last 12 years, I might as well do it again.”

So he’s back for the first time since his October 2011 loss to Nick Diaz in Las Vegas, taking on rising star Rory MacDonald on this Saturday’s UFC on FOX card in Seattle, and truth be told, few believed that his post-Diaz retirement was going to stick. It just wasn’t the way you would expect Penn to leave the sport, and remembering that his previous two performances were a one round knockout of Matt Hughes and a three round draw with Jon Fitch, there was still work to be done for someone who has been doing this for much of his adult life, even if he can’t pinpoint why.

“It does surprise me that somebody would want to keep doing it after a long time, but there’s nothing else like it,” said Penn. “There’s nothing like walking to the ring and fighting someone else who’s just as prepared as you are. Not many things will get you as excited after you do that a couple times. Everything else is boring.”

And usually everyone else is boring when it comes to Penn, one of the sport’s most compelling figures in and out of the Octagon. He said it best years ago when he admitted that whether he makes you laugh or cry, he will get a reaction, and there is no more apt description of the Hawaiian who emerged on the UFC scene in 2001 as “The Prodigy” and never stopped captivating audiences in the years since.

The Diaz loss was a disappointing one, as he was picked at and poked by the Stockton native for 15 minutes, losing a clear unanimous decision that led to a bruised Penn saying in his post-fight interview, “This is probably the last time you will ever see me in here. I've got a daughter at home, and another on the way. I don't want to go home looking like this; I'm done.”

It was a short-lived retirement. How short? Even Penn can’t put a finger on the exact moment he decided to return.

“I don’t know exactly when it was, I just felt it again,” he said. “I was sitting at home, and I’m like ‘I’ve gotta do something, I’ve gotta fight, nothing else.’”

Penn’s comeback didn’t surprise his family, saying “I think they kind of expected it,” but he admits that he doesn’t discuss fighting much with his four-year-old daughter Aeva (Penn and his girlfriend Shealen welcomed a second daughter, Kulia, in January)

“I still don’t really talk about it too much with the little girl,” he said. “My daughter’s four and she kind of knows, but I don’t really bring it up to her. I don’t think she wants me fighting again.”

The former welterweight and lightweight champion knows that he can’t fight forever, but he can do it now, and if a training camp with the likes of Tyron Woodley, Pat Healy, Ben Askren, and Josh Thomson, among others, hasn’t gotten him ready for this week’s battle, nothing will.

“Training camp is tough and it’s never fun, especially when you start getting close,” he said. “You fight tooth and nail for every round and you try to win, and your sparring partners are there kicking your butt every day and you’re in the mix with them, and that’s when I just say I’m just glad I’m not sitting at home doing nothing. (Laughs) I gotta say, I’m a trained man for this fight. I sparred a lot, and usually I’m not real big into sparring. I might spar a few times getting ready for the fight, but I’ve been sparring a lot and I’m ready to go, I’m ready to do this.”

The object of Penn’s focus this weekend? MacDonald, the Canadian phenom who Penn made a beeline towards when he decided to rejoin the active roster. And while a win over “Ares” will get Penn right back in the contenders’ line at 170 pounds, he also has an ulterior motive for wanting to get MacDonald in the Octagon.

“Rory’s a great fighter himself,” said Penn. “He’s got a lot of talent and a lot of things going for him, and I want to compete against him, number one, and on the other end I want to compete against TriStar again. Just in a friendly way, there’s no bad blood, but I believe I can do better. They can put their thinking caps on and I’ll put my thinking cap on and my gloves on and we can see how this next thing will play out.”

Why TriStar, the gym MacDonald calls home? Well, if there’s one loss that has never sat well with the Hilo native, it’s his 2009 rematch loss to Georges St-Pierre. GSP is a member of the TriStar team, so is MacDonald, so it all makes sense.

“I saw them making a push to build his (MacDonald’s) name and I just thought it would be a great fight all around – an up and coming guy versus a guy who’s been there for a while, and on the other side it’s very motivating for me to get to compete against TriStar,” said Penn, who has gotten progressively more amped up for battle as the months turned to weeks to days.

“At first I was just gonna go in, get into as good a shape as I could, and fight and do my best, but after the training camp I ended up having, I’m trained and I got some ideas and I got some stuff I want to execute when I get in the ring, and I’m very confident with the way this whole training camp has gone that this is gonna be a good fight for sure.”

Does that mean he has another title run in him if he wins? Penn isn’t sure, but he does make it clear that he’s winning the fight.

“Anything in the past is the past, and I think the good thing about fighters is we’ve got short memories,” he said. “I’d love to say title run, I’d love to say everything, but I’m just gonna take it one step at a time. We’ll see how I enjoy the fight on December 8th, and see if I like the way that I won, and then we’ll see what we’re gonna do next.”

Watch Past Fights

일요일, 2월 21
9PM/6PM
ETPT
Pittsburgh, PA

미디어

최근
UFC Minute 진행자 리사 호일스가 UFC 경기를 원하는 팬들을 위해 몇 가지를 제안한다. 타이런 우들리, 로렌 머피, 알 이아킨타, 샘 앨비 등 UFC 파이터들의 의견도 함께 들어본다.
2016. 2. 12
톰 라울러는 2012년 제이슨 맥도날드를 쓰러뜨리며 UFC에서 첫 KO승을 기록한다. 현재 2연승을 달리고 있는 라울러는 3월 5일 UFC 196 대회에서 헤비급 랭커 코리 앤더슨을 상대한다.
2016. 2. 11
발렌타인 데이가 낀 이번 주 주말에는 UFC 대회가 없다. 하지만 다음 주부터 대회가 연속으로 열린다. 내주 피츠버그 대회부터 시작이다. 피츠버그 대회는 금요일 공개훈련, 토요일 계체량 행사를 거친 후 일요일 열린다.
2016. 2. 11
세이지 노스컷는 너무 일찍 인기를 얻은 것일까? 가라데 출신의 동료 선수인 스테픈 톰슨의 말을 들어보자. 톰슨은 노스컷과 노스컷의 미래에 힘을 실어준다.
2016. 2. 10