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BJ Penn Doesn’t Feel That He Has Peaked Yet

(Video courtesy YouTube/tjc231/

If you were to ask a room full of MMA fans and reporters if they think that BJ Penn’s best days as a fighter are behind him, many, if not most would say they were, but as The Prodigy told Joe Rogan on the most recent episode of UFC Ultimate Insider, he doesn’t feel that he has reached his full potential and he that with the right training and mindset he will one day be one of the best fighters in the sport.

When asked by Rogan if he would change anything he did during his career, Penn said that he would do it all over again without doing anything differently as he has learned from everything he has done.

"I wouldn’t do anything different. I woulda did it just like that. I wish I could look back and say, ‘I wish how I was gonna train right now for the Matt Hughes fight I trained like this when I was 20 years old,’ but it wouldn’t have worked then," BJ explains. "It wouldn’t have worked that way. You gotta find what works for you. That’s what I believe. I believe once I do [find what works best for me] I’ll be able to hit that peak. We’re just getting started."

For years, a common opinion amongst those who had followed the Hilo, Hawaii fighter’s career was that Penn’s lack of motivation and dedication to conditioning were the limiting factors of his career, so when he teamed up with revered trainers Marv and Gary Marinovich, he seemed to be on his way to becoming the complete fighter he had never become.

The former UFC lightweight champion looked incredible when he was working with the Marinovich’s for his fights with Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez, but Penn inexplicably chose to part ways with them prior to his first fight with Frankie Edgar. Not surprisingly, BJ seemed somewhat lethargic during the heavily debated loss and the subsequent rematch.

He admits that his lack of cardio played a part in the last fight with Edgar, but says that he isn’t doing anything drastic to prepare for his next fight with Matt Hughes at UFC 123 next weekend.

"I tried some stuff in the Frankie Edgar fight. I didn’t defend the takedowns as hard as I wanted to because I wanted to try a couple sweeps, but I didn’t have the conditioning. [It’s] always a wake-up call when you lose because you know you’re going to alter something in your training; something has to change in the training," he says. "I’m going to train pretty traditional. I’m going to do a lot of striking, a lot of grappling and I’m gonna run hard and I’m gonna do everything I need to do."

That’s not to say that he’s taking Hughes lightly.

says that the Iowa native’s ground game is as good as anyone’s and that he wasn’t surprised that he choked out Renzo Gracie black belt Ricardo Almeida in his last fight.

"I think Matt looked good in his last three fights. Almeida came in [and] he thought he was gonna do something at 170 and Matt took him out. Anything Matt Hughes does doesn’t surprise me. Remember when he picked up Frank Trigg and ran him across the cage? Anything he does, it’s just not surprising.
I remember Tony DeSouza [used to get me in the submission Hughes tapped Ricardo with]  me all the time," he explains. "It’s a strong position. You let someone like Matt grab you like that and that could be the end of you… [When Hughes had me in the mounted crucifix in the second fight] I thought, ‘I’m gonna get out. I’m gonna get out,’ and then when they stopped the fight, I was like, ‘Yeah, I got out.’ I didn’t realize the fight was over. I was like, ‘Wow, he slipped off the top or something.’" 

Surprisingly, he doesn’t think that Hughes has a strength advantage.

"Nobody feels strong when you’re fighting," Penn says. "Everybody feels the same. When you’re in there everyone is going 100 percent so it just kinda feels like one guy got leverage or the position and that’s it, so everybody feels about equal because everybody’s fighting for their life in that place."

Cagepotato Comments

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Nut Puncher 9000- November 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm
From a guy that likes reading CP, I wanted to say that this particular article is linked from other sites. When i follow a link to a removed video it sucks. Perhaps a quick switch to a Penn photo and witty caption?

I know you're thinking 'Nut Puncher 9000 huh? Who the fuck does this guy think he is to offer constructive criticism in the comments section?!' but I do think it would be a good move...or fuck you(me), thats cool too.
J-Dog- November 12, 2010 at 1:19 pm
It may seem early to say this.... especially since he did destroy Diego and Kenny not that long ago... but my gut tells me BJ is DONE, son. I'm gonna go ahead and call it now... BJ will never rise above gate keeper status again. He'll lose a few more fights, then they'll have him fight nostalgia matches ala Randy, Chuck, etc until they are done w/ him.
RearNakedSpoon- November 12, 2010 at 8:28 am
I hope Hughes cracks his coconut head and get a KO.

Have him fight Carwin if Hughes fails.
RearNakedPoke- November 12, 2010 at 5:14 am
BJ i think will take Matt this time. just my 2 cents...
MoTropolis- November 12, 2010 at 12:06 am
Looks like BJ has been talking with his mom again.
Charming Charlie- November 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm
I googled some odds.

Matt Hughes +135
BJ Penn -165

It seems strange to me me that coming off a big win, and coming off a loss (when you're the invincible champion), makes people feel this fight will be close. As if Matt Hughes is still relevant. As if BJ Penn's spiral lists anyone other than Edgar.

Now, the stuff about camps is all worth taking into account. But looking a the betting line makes me feel like it's the only thing people are taking into account.
RaginAsian- November 11, 2010 at 10:20 pm
BJ's getting lazy again. Going into this fight with the same sluggish mentality as the Edgar rematch: "I would've tooled this guy last time if it weren't for my injury."

I'm a BJ Penn fan, but the fire is gone. He planned to retire if he beat GSP, if he beats Hughes he might as well call it a career.
Zombie Cage Fighter- November 11, 2010 at 9:51 pm
@MKO: My thoughts exactly. Especially in the opening thirty seconds. They both seem totally baked.
OPIO- November 11, 2010 at 9:33 pm
His Hawaii way of life won't allow him to take fighting to the level of seriousness it needs to be to remain on top. The dude is PAID, and has a great family. The hunger has faded.
mister_dailey- November 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm
Yeah, Bob Sapp said that too. Then you play a rapist in a Rob Schneider movie and it's all downhill from there.
Ballkick- November 11, 2010 at 8:43 pm
As many of us here agreed after the last Edgar fight, BJ needs to get off the Island and train somewhere else.
His trainers and staff, the people around BJ are hampering his success and need to stop stroking this guys ego.
I believe in the saying that sometimes, something bad has to be said, for something good to come around.
If BJ stays the course with regards to his training camp,....the results are predictable.
darciesdaddy- November 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm
I don't see anything BJ said that would inspire me to think he is about to turn his career around. If he is still trying to 'find what works for him' at his point in his career, his attitude towards training doesn't seem to be where it should be. It sounds to me like he is trying to find a way to improve his conditioning that isn't as hard as what everyone else does.
bodysnatcher- November 11, 2010 at 6:04 pm
"If you were to ask a room full of MMA fans and reporters if they think that BJ Penn’s best days as a fighter are behind him, many, if not most would say they were"
And he would hardly be the first. It's more or less a truism of the atmosphere in the sport at this point that if you're a high-profile fighter and you lose two fights in a row, you will be painted as someone in a downward spiral. It's ludicrous, but we all know it happens.
BeastUnleashed- November 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm
You typed Ben somewhere in this article where it is supposed to be Penn. 5th paragraph I think. Unless you talking about the writer on the site.

I got a feeling this guy Penn is gonna be like Cro Cop just waiting and holding out for the beast to come back and it sadly never will. I got Hughes winning a decision prob a close one but Penn will always be one of my favorites.
Tardjitsu- November 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm
BJ is one of the few fighters that I would actually care about returning to his former self. He's always been exciting to watch, and it's a shame to see him without the belt because he was outpointed by the Energizer bunny. Hopefully he's hungry now, and willing to take his lazy butt out of his comfort zone.
MKO- November 11, 2010 at 4:28 pm
They both seem high off their asses.
Jesus Frijoles- November 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm
He hasn't peaked yet, his mom says so.
Shelter- November 11, 2010 at 4:09 pm
By all accounts I should be picking BJ in this fight, but I have this unexplainable feeling that Hughes will UD him.

Probably not though, Penn will most likely play surgeon with Hughes face, as long as he can keep himself upright.
Some Jaded Hipster- November 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm
Worries me a bit to hear BJ sound so unsure about how he's improving his training to fight Hughes coming off two losses. "Run hard and do everything I need to do" just isn't confidence-inspiring.

On another note, this is the first true interview I've seen Rogan do. Good stuff.