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Tag: Rudy Valentino

Exclusive: BJ Penn’s Coach Rudy Valentino Says Prodigy Is Happier, More Confident — And Still Wants GSP

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By contributor Elias Cepeda

The feelings behind BJ Penn’s notorious “gameface,” used to run deep. In the days and hours leading up to his fights he could be as dour and tense as his expression, and the anxiousness continued even as he ran to the Octagon to fight, a bundle of nervous energy.

But just before his UFC lightweight title defense last August in Philadelphia against top contender Kenny Florian, Penn’s head trainer Rudy Valentino saw a change in his fighter. “Just before we got out of the arena he was laughing and talking about, ‘I’m going to enjoy this fight, I’m going to go out and enjoy every fight from now on,’” the coach told CagePotato from Memphis, where Penn (14-5-1) will face Diego Sanchez (23-2) on Saturday night at UFC 107.

“That night BJ was just fighting to fight. It was the Florian fight where he began to turn it on.”

The idea that Penn may just now beginning to find his groove, mentally, is a scary one. Especially if his violent dismantling of Florian that night is any indication of what a more relaxed “Prodigy” can do.