BJ Penn Talks To ESPN | I'm Living A Normal Life For The First Time In 15 Years, Unsure Of Next Step
“I’m enjoying my time away from the sport. That’s where I am right now,” Penn said. “I’m living a regular life instead of living the roller coaster. I haven’t [lived a normal life] in 15 years.
“I’m trying to find myself a little bit — not as a fighter trying to come back to the sport, but just as a person.”
BJ Penn says he’s still in the gym on a regular basis, but he’s there strictly for his enjoyment of the sport. He’s not forcing himself to do the drills he doesn’t want to do and he’s not putting his body through the rigors of sparring sessions.
When he doesn’t feel like going, he doesn’t. Although, he says, “usually I want to go.”
Most of the time, retirement isn’t on his mind, but it’s an impossible topic to avoid when every fan Penn interacts with obviously wants to know if he’s done or not. When he does think about the sport and his career, he actually thinks more about the past than the future.
“I just honestly sit back and reflect and look at how it went,” Penn said. “I really do feel I could have done a lot better in a lot of different situations. I’m heartbroken with the way some of the fights went. The way my UFC 94 fight [against Georges St. Pierre] and my fights with Frankie Edgar went, I’m heartbroken about those fights.
“I feel I could have made better choices but I don’t feel a major urge that I’ve got to go fix that right now.”
He was unaware of the recent comments made by UFC president Dana White on the promotion’s intent to hold a show in Hawaii as early as this year.
We talked about the chances the UFC would have selling out a 50,000-seat arena in Hawaii (pretty good, Penn and his brother J.D. thought, if B.J. is headlining) but we did so hypothetically. Even a main event in Hawaii isn’t a guarantee Penn returns.
“We would just have to sit down and talk about what made sense,” Penn said. “That’s amazing they are finally deciding to go to Hawaii, but I wouldn’t want to waste Dana’s time, getting his hopes up on something he wants to put together.”
I mentioned to him that if he does fight again, he should be certain that’s what he wants. But does he worry at all about the time being lost while he’s deciding?
Penn is 33. He’ll turn 34 in December. Even if he ends up only taking off six to nine months and then returns, that’s still a significant chunk of time considering he’s not far away from an age a reasonable decline in performance is expected.
He nodded, and said he’s thought about that part. He’ll have to live with it.
“That is something that either way, I’m going to have to accept,” Penn said. “I’ve thought about it, but even if you are in your physical prime, there’s still no sense going back if your head isn’t there.”
At the end of the day, I still believe what I did in the beginning — that B.J. Penn will get in the Octagon again eventually. That’s nothing more than a guess and right now, my guess on the topic is as good as Penn’s, which is as good as yours.
“I want to tell [my fans] that they’re guess is as good as mine,” Penn said. “I don’t know.” Go to ESPN to read the rest of the interview HERE.