Former UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn lost his title at UFC 112 when he was out pointed by Frankie Edgar in the course of a five-round battle. Their rematch at UFC 118 was predicted to be a washout for Penn, but Edgar confounded his detractors by dialling in an emphatic and pretty one-sided victory.
Fighters Only staff writer Gary Alexander recently met up with Penn and had a chat with him about how the second fight went, and what he sees in his immediate future.
FO: You didn’t look your usual self in that second fight; why did you seem so subdued?
I guess its just emotions of how you’re feeling that day of the fight or whatever. I didn’t want to stand around and waste a lot of energy and pump myself up. I just felt like that’s a big waste of energy before the fight, jumping around. But that fight, I don’t know why I ended up performing like I did that night. If I was out of shape I would have been like fast and explosive at the beginning and then fell off, you know how under trained people really go hard and then hit a wall and drop off?
But I don’t know why I didn’t perform very well that night. I know I didn’t perform well that night and I guess I have to keep fine-tuning and adjusting until I find what works for me. A lot of people could be counting me out but I really think when I find out what works best for me, that its just really a new beginning.
FO: What are your thoughts on the future, is it all about getting the championship belt back?
I just want to fight. I had a gameplan that I was going to train year round and fight as often as I could. My lst fight didn’t go the way I wanted it to do and I am still fine-tuning and adjusting until I find what works for me the way I like it. I am sticking to my plan, I want to train year round. I don’t want to do a three-month training camp and then take two months off and fight once or twice a year, I have done that for the last ten years.
I want to take a new approach and I want to fight year round. Of course to do this you have to win your fights, you cant fight year-round losing every single fight! Say I beat Matt Hughes in the forst eround and come out without any scratches which is always the best case scenario ‘Dana, when can I fight again? Two weeks? Perfect, lets go’ I just want to be as busy as I can and train year round and I think I have got the recipe to do it. I am just getting the supporting cast to help me out on this.
That’s what I have been looking at, I told JD that if our goal is just to get the UFC championship and nothing else then we might as well stop now, I have got a couple of belts at home. But I don’t want to be that guy anymore, I don’t want to train for two big fights a year, I want to fight consistently, get my name out there and keep it out there
FO: You will face Matt Hughes at UFC 123 in November. You have fought each other twice and its 1-1 in the series. Is the rivalry with Hughes still as fierce as it ever was?
We are rivals I guess, definitely if you would have asked me six years ago if I liked Matt Hughes I would probably have said no but if you asked me now I would probably say that there’s not - I mean, I have closer friends, we’re not close - but there’s not anything I wouldn’t do for Matt Hughes if he asked me.
Time heals all wounds, time changes things and I have got no animosity towards Matt Hughes whatsoever. What I do have to do is go out and beat the sportsman named Matt Hughes and that’s what I am prepared to do.
FO: Are there things from your first two matches that you can use to form a gameplan for this one?
The first match was six years ago and the rematch was four years ago so… its been so long, we are two different guys. Matt’s reinventing himself. You know what, Matt Hughes is a lot harder to hit than you think he is. He is really good Matt. Times change, things change. I don’t if its just me, I don’t know if I have got a mental problem but I don’t really… I can pick up some stuff that I learned from how I fought before with people but its like a new fight for me.
FO: What’s coming up for BJ Penn? Can you tell us what the near future holds?
I want to fight and I want to be the best. I am not taking this fight as a last hurrah or another reason to get my name out. Eventually this thing is going to hit, the way that I am training, eventually I am going to put it all together and its going to work out. This isn’t the end, at least in my eyes its not. You never know how everything goes.
BJ Penn spoke with Gary Alexander