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BJ Penn Quits ‘UFC Primetime’ Over Negative Portrayal

BJ Penn UFC MMA hot girlfriend
("I never thought I’d meet someone who enjoyed licking people’s blood as much as I do. Thanks eHarmony!" Photo courtesy of CombatLifestyle.)

Well this isn’t good. Displeased with his portrayal as a spoiled brat on last week’s debut episode of UFC Primetime, BJ Penn has responded by…acting like a spoiled brat. According to MMA Junkie:

A source close to the show on Tuesday told ( B.J. Penn recently shut down a taping and interview session for the series and no longer wants [to be] involved in the project.
Penn was apparently unhappy with how he was portrayed in last week’s debut of the series, which hypes a Jan. 31 UFC 94 main event fight between the Hawaiian fighter and UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.

As on HBO’s boxing series 24/7 — from which Primetime takes many cues — the fighters on the UFC hype-show are set up as dueling opposites right from the beginning. Georges St. Pierre is the tireless hard-worker who struggled for everything he has and now enjoys wearing expensive suits, while Penn is the blessed-from-birth party-boy who sees no problem in taking five days off from training three weeks before the fight of his life, and generally prefers the RVCA t-shirt and shorts look. Obviously, those characterizations are exaggerated to create drama for the show — I don’t think anyone really believes that Penn isn’t taking this fight seriously — but nevertheless they got under the Prodigy’s skin and now he’s pulling the ultimate diva move and throwing a wrench into the UFC’s new multi-million dollar promotional tool.

Episode 2 of UFC Primetime airs tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Spike TV, and the third and final episode will likely air next Wednesday, with or without Penn’s participation. We’re more concerned about the mental distraction that Penn might be facing at this point. A week ago he was a happy-go-lucky dude, catching some rays in Kona. Now he’s dodging furious phone calls from Dana White, while MMA fans across the country are calling him a lazy little punk. Will he be able to keep all of that out of his head on the 31st? Or is this a manufactured move to draw even more heat behind the matchup?


B.J. Penn: Merchandising Genius

(He’s going to make your car smell delightful.  And he is not joking about this.)

Now this is awesomely ridiculous.  Thanks to reader Erik for the find.  Apparently B.J. Penn sponsor RVCA sees no limit to the amount of Penn-themed crap they can sell to his loyal fans.  In addition to a signature B.J. Penn UFC 94 t-shirt and official B.J. Penn trunks (complete with the painted on black belt, and for only $61!!!), you can also get this cute little air freshener shaped like everyone’s favorite blood-licking Hawaiian for only six dollars.  And yeah, it’s coconut-scented.  What else?

For a guy from a wealthy family (as “UFC Primetime” continually reminds us), Penn sure is willing to put his name on anything for a buck.  Not that we blame him.  If we thought anyone would buy air fresheners of us, you can bet we’d be pushing them every day.  Only ours would smell like whiskey and nachos, which only appeals to the small segment of the population who want their cars to smell like the father who never loved them.


“UFC Primetime” Ratings May Justify Expense

(‘To the death, Georges.  To the death.  Right after I get back from vacation.’)

As if you couldn’t tell from the high production values in last night’s debut episode of “UFC Primetime” on Spike TV, that thing didn’t come cheap.  The pricetag for the entire series is $1.7 million, which is a lot when you consider that your run-of-the-mill “Countdown” show only costs about $200,000.  But judging by the ratings numbers from last night’s premiere episode, it may prove to be worth it.

MMA Payout reports that the show drew nearly 1.5 million viewers (1,494,000 to be exact), according to ratings estimates.  In case you’re curious how that compares to the “Countdown” ratings, the best that show ever managed to draw in its first airing was 782,000 viewers.  That means “UFC Primetime” drew nearly twice as well as the best “Countdown” ever, and it has the added benefit of being a recurring series, so we can see how many of those people come back for more next week.

But here’s the real question: will the high ratings translate into big pay-per-view buys?  Probably.  “Countdown” ratings have proven to be a fairly decent barometer for how a given PPV event will sell, and these kinds of numbers should give the UFC reason to be very optimistic about the potential for UFC 94.  Then again, Georges St. Pierre-B.J. Penn II was bound to be a huge event anyway, so it will be difficult to say how much “Primetime” helped.

Either way, as long as the UFC is putting out something this good, and as long as they keep employing our boy Ariel Helwani (who is hopefully seeing a big chunk of that $1.7 million, because we need to borrow some cash to cover our gambling losses after UFC 92), we aren’t complaining.  Let’s just hope this success means more “Primetimes” in the future.


UFC 94 Sold Out, GSP on Men’s Fitness Cover

(Props: MMA Payout)

According to a press release sent out earlier this afternoon, UFC 94 in Las Vegas on January 31 is officially sold out.  Sorry, suckers.  But what did you expect with this much hype?  

As if the “UFC Primetime” series on Spike TV wasn’t enough to help push interest in the Georges St. Pierre-B.J. Penn fight to an all-time high, the UFC has also managed to get GSP on the cover of the next Men’s Fitness.  Look at him up there, looking all suave and airbrushed, helping us all get rid of our holiday guts.  Whoever the son of a bitch is who stole the buttons off his shirt is sure in for an ass-whippin’ though.  Wouldn’t want to be that guy. 


UFC 94 Poster: Pure Win

Georges St. Pierre GSP Rush BJ Penn MMA UFC 94
(Even more badass than AVPProps: TheGARV)

It’s good to see the UFC stepping up their poster-game. The above promo image for UFC 94 (January 31st, Las Vegas) is a massive improvement from their previous artistic works — and it’s also a sign of how seriously the UFC is taking the promotion of this match. The premiere of "UFC Primetime: St. Pierre vs. Penn" will go down tonight at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Spike, and from what we hear, it’ll be a truly first-class, must-see production. And if that doesn’t get you psyched, just listen to this killer jam from TheGARV. I smell megahit.

FYI, the full card for "St. Pierre vs. Penn 2" was finalized last Friday. To refresh you…

Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn (for welterweight title)
Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva (LHW)
Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones (LHW)
Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim (WW)
Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida (LW)

Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono (WW)
Manny Gamburyan vs. Thiago Tavares (LW)
Chris Wilson vs. John Howard (WW)
Jake O’Brien vs. Christian Wellisch (HW)
Matt Arroyo vs. Dan Cramer (WW)


Exclusive: Greg Jackson Talks Nipple Tweaks, GSP-Penn II, and More

(Photo courtesy of

Greg Jackson wants to get one thing straight: he did not start the nipple tweak.  He doesn’t endorse it and doesn’t seem to understand it any more than the rest of us, and frankly he’s getting a little tired of being associated with the idea of grown men pinching their own nipples on TV.  And yet, as long as his fighters keep winning with it, he’s resigned to the fact that it may not be going anywhere.

This is just one of the fascinating topics we covered in our exclusive talk with trainer Greg Jackson.  Read on and see what else he had to say. Thanks for talking with me Greg.  I know you must be busy with so many different guys fighting in different organizations.  Tell me, what’s a typical month like for you?  Like the next thirty days, who have you got fighting?

Well let’s see, in the next thirty days we’ve got Donald Cerrone fighting in the WEC in San Diego, and then immediately after that we’ve got Georges St. Pierre defending his title against BJ Penn in Vegas on the 31st, and the after that I don’t have anyone until Nate Marquardt fighting in England on February 21st.  After that it heats up again in March.

Does it ever get hard to keep track of so many different guys and their different game plans and strategies?

It’s my job.  It’s like anything.  If you’ve got a long day ahead of you, you’ve got a long day.  I don’t do anything else.  I don’t manage.  I just train guys and make sure they’re following their own personal growth plan and at the same time that they’re training specifically for their opponent.  That’s all I do all day long.  Sometimes it seems overwhelming, like when I step back and realize I’ve got eleven different game plans working, but as long as I take it one at a time it’s not a big deal.

B.J. Penn keeps insisting that the only reason he lost to GSP the first time was because he gassed out, and says that won’t happen again.  What do you think when you hear some of the stuff he says?


Videos: Bas Rutten Highlight Reel, UFC 94 In-Depth Preview + More

The best reason to tune in to HDNet’s Inside MMA has always been to watch Bas Rutten act like a spastic, free-associative maniac. The above clip from the show’s "Best of 2008" episode collects Bas’s craziest moments, from his heroin-addict pantomimes to his beloved Tony Montana impression. If him and Robin Williams ever met, the world might explode. Check out the latest episode this Friday at 9 p.m., as Renato Sobral, Vitor Belfort and Carlos Condit join Bas and Kenny in the studio.

Here’s the extended trailer for UFC 94: St. Pierre vs. Penn 2 (January 31st, Las Vegas). BJ Penn delivers the money line in their segment: "If Jon Fitch reminds [St. Pierre] of the Terminator, he’s gonna think I’m God." Later, in the Lyoto vs. Thiago segment, Dana White cackles about how Tito Ortiz couldn’t land anything on Machida in his last fight, while Rogan gets enthusiastic about Machida’s karate skills. We also get to hear Machida pronounce "with Tito" as "wiffa Cheeto," which is always good for a laugh.

After the jump: Mark Coleman says he’ll have a strength advantage against Mauricio Rua at UFC 93, while Rua looks forward to showing the Hammer what a healthy Shogun is capable of.


UFC 94 Lineup Complete; Fitch/Gono on Undercard

Georges St. Pierre BJ Penn GSP UFC UFC 94 MMA
(Props: MMA Mania)

The UFC has confirmed the full lineup for UFC 94: St Pierre vs. Penn 2 (January 31st, Las Vegas), and you’ll be pleased to learn that it’s nearly as stacked as this Saturday’s "Ultimate 2008." So stacked, in fact, that Jon Fitch’s fight against Akihiro Gono is slated for the undercard, and may not be televised. Could this be the UFC’s passive-aggressive punishment for the video game licensing agreement drama that led to Fitch being fired for a day? Fitch/Gono does seem more main-card-worthy than Bonnar/Jones, after all. Anyway, check out the lineup below and draw your own conclusions…

Main Card
Georges St. Pierre vs. BJ Penn (for welterweight championship)
Lyoto Machida vs. Thiago Silva (LHW)
Stephan Bonnar vs. Jon Jones (LHW)
Karo Parisyan vs. Dong Hyun Kim (WW)
Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida (LW)

Jon Fitch vs. Akihiro Gono (WW)
Manny Gamburyan vs. Thiago Tavares (LW)
Chris Wilson vs. John Howard (WW)
Jake O’Brien vs. Christian Wellisch (HW)
Matt Arroyo vs. Daniel Cramer (WW)

Related: Georges St. Pierre has been named’s 2008 Canadian Athlete of the Year, after taking in 89% of fans’ votes. GSP beat out wheelchair racer Chantal Petitclerc, Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla, Minnesota Twins first-baseman Justin Morneau, and tennis player Daniel Nestor. Said St. Pierre: “It’s an honor for me to have this award and being the first MMA guy to receive something like this…I want to be a good Canadian ambassador for the sport and represent MMA well."


Nate Diaz vs. Clay Guida Added to “St. Pierre vs. Penn II”

Nate Diaz UFC MMA
("We could do this shit right here, if you want." Photo courtesy of FiveOuncesofPain.)

Though it was originally scheduled for this month’s TUF 8 finale, the bout between UFC lightweights Nate Diaz and Clay Guida was postponed when Guida injured his foot in training. Now, GracieFighter is reporting that the matchup has been added to UFC 94 (January 31st, Las Vegas), in the supporting card for the Georges St. Pierre/BJ Penn superfight; it should be mentioned that the pairing hasn’t yet been added to the official lineup on

Diaz has won all five of his matches in the Octagon, most recently a split decision against Josh Neer at UFC Fight Night 15 in September. Though Guida’s 4-3 record in the UFC is a bit spottier, his last performance (also at UFN 15) proved that he shouldn’t be overlooked, as he used dominating wrestling to neutralize all of Mac Danzig’s weapons and score the unanimous decision win.

In other UFC news…


Here We Go Again…

(Photo courtesy of Arianny’s official website.  The rest of her Hawaii photos are, shall we say, bikini-tastic.)

While we wait patiently to hear just how many pay-per-views UFC 91 sold and whether it lived up to Dana White’s optimistic prediction of 1.2 million, White is already off and running with his next oversized claim.  This one,  not surprisingly, revolves around UFC 94’s B.J. Penn-Georges St. Pierre superfight:

"I’m just coming off a promotion where I got done saying it’s the biggest fight in UFC history in terms of most pay-per-view buys," White said. "I truly believe this fight has the potential to break that. BJ and Georges are heavyweights when it comes to star power."

Is this what we’re going to do every time now?  Has Dana White become a boxing promoter, calling every fight the biggest fight ever, until the next fight?  I realize he’s talking to a Honolulu paper so he has to say some of this stuff, but words mean things.

MMA Payout sees this as an opportunity for us to find out whether the sport of MMA (two established champions, both pound-for-pound greats, neither of whom have been in the WWE) sells as well as the “spectacle” of MMA (Brock Lesnar against that other guy).  You’d like to say that it does, but then again you’d also like to believe that the cute waitress is being so nice because she actually likes you and not just because she works in the service industry and her kids need new shoes.