Exclusive: BJ Penn Interview Part Two- GSP vs. Silva, BJJ in the Olympics & UFC Expansion
To read part one of our exclusive interview click here.
The UFC is expanding at a phenomenal rate and is entering new markets all the time. They recently made their first trip to the country many people believe is the birthplace of martial arts, China. Penn sees big things for the organization, the sport and sees Asia as a key component.
“I think MMA is going to be strong all over like it is here in North America,” said Penn. “Europe is growing and as the UFC starts to move toward the Far East I think that’s where they could hold some of the biggest fights ever and I think things can really take off. I see big things over in Asia, China, Korea, the Philippines, I think it’s really going to explode over there and MMA will become a true international sport.”
With all of the great fights Penn has been a part of no one would blame him if he had a hard time coming up with a couple of his favorite match-ups. While we also asked him to look into his past we also asked him to take a glimpse into his future and whether or not the UFC is in it. Chuck Liddell serves as a sort of ambassador to the UFC and it’s not unreasonable to think they would want Penn to take on a similar role.
“I’ll remember my first fight and walking into the cage against Joey Gilbert and winning my first world title. Those for me are my two favorite moments of all time in my MMA career. I would like to work with the UFC when I’m done fighting. I don’t know if I would be as busy flying around the world, I would probably be based in Hilo, but I would try and keep the connection with the UFC forever.”
Speaking of keeping the connection with the UFC, Penn and the organization have partnered up and opened a UFC Gym in Honolulu.
”The gym is coming along real well and we’re actually in talks to open another one in Kapolei,” offered the future UFC Hall of Famer. “Everything has been going so well and they really want to try to expand into other areas of Hawaii and see how they do. The UFC has talked about opening 8-10 gyms in the state, maybe even more.”
BJPenn.Com has grown since its inception into a site for fans to find news, interviews as well as a vehicle to keep tabs on what Penn is up to. When BJ first begun the site he initially wanted to keep his fans abreast of what he had going on in his career. With that being said he held onto the dream that it could become something special.
“I never gave up and I always had hope, honestly the site was around a long time and we were doing different things,” Penn stated. “I always thought there was a way to do something with the site and I just stuck with it. A lot of the stuff just happened organically like meeting Pedro and one of my family friends Scott Hernandez helping out with the back end of the site. We brought you and Mitch along, two serious people who really know their craft and it’s amazing how it’s all come together.”
This past weekend St. Pierre returned from a 19 month layoff to defeat interim champion Carlos Condit. Talk has now turned to a potential super fight between GSP and UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva. Penn is no stranger to fighting out of his natural weight class and he had some thoughts on how things could go.
“St. Pierre has definitely been a top dog in the welterweight division for a long time,” said the former UFC Welterweight & Lightweight Champion. “After you’ve watched and seen what Anderson Silva can do I don’t see how you can ever bet against him. I would be worried for Silva if he dropped below 185 because that is his perfect weight. If Silva is fighting at his perfect weight no one has any reason why they should ever bet against that guy.”
Being one of the best fighters in the history of MMA, Penn has a huge fan base and some of the listeners had some questions for him which he took the time to answer.
First up was a question concerning whether or not BJ planned on making another run at a UFC championship.
“At this point after going through all that I have gone through I realize I can’t look past what’s going to happen on December 8th. If we end up doing well we’re going to fight again.”
Next up was a question about the importance of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu in MMA.
“We might not see BJJ as much, but everyone has it in their arsenal. One of the strangest things is when you have two great grapplers in the ring together and they get into an amateur boxing match. I’ve done it myself and I don’t know how that happens! I’ve always said it, if you’re not the aggressor and you just want to get away, Jiu-Jitsu is still the best self defense in the world. A great mixed martial arts fighter combines BJJ with Judo, wrestling and kickboxing.”
BJ also discusses the possibility of BJJ as an Olympic sport.
“I think that BJJ in the Olympics would be a great idea and they should shorten it and make it the same time limit as Judo. I bet you would see people competing in both Judo and BJJ in the Olympics. It would be amazing and Brazil would always be involved with it as Japan is with Judo.”