EXCLUSIVE: Penn Breaks His Silence, Addresses Diaz Fight, Retirement Talk, Cesar’s Offer And More
We are almost two weeks removed now from UFC 137 and have covered the pre and post fight items tirelessly here on BJPENN.COM. However other than a brief post-fight statement from BJ he has for the most part remained silent on a lot of the questions and issues surrounding everything to do with his UFC 137 showdown with Nick Diaz.
Finally today we had the opportunity to go on record with the champ and get his take on everything from his training camp, to the fight itself and all the aftermath that was dished out as a result of the fight. So for all the fans out there that have been writing into us with questions and inquiries, this interview is for you. Hopefully we addressed all the questions and concerns on everyone’s mind.
FULL INTERVIEW TRANSCRIPT:
PC: Let’s just start from the beginning. Now that the fight is done and over with, how do you assess your training camp? Are you happy with the results it yielded you and was it a good camp?
BJ: “I did like the periodization part of the camp, although we probably did make some mistakes here and there naturally that we can improve and make better. But all in all the camp went OK. It is a tough question to answer because even if something went wrong we aren’t here to make any excuses.”
PC: I know the fight was not how you anticipated it, but outside of the loss what positives can you take away from the fight and what are your thoughts on the fight overall?
BJ: “I guess the fans got a good fight so that’s always positive for them. You always want to make sure they get their money’s worth if they order the pay-per-view or show up in person.
I was glad a lot of people from Hawaii got to make it out, a lot of friends and family got to be there so that was all good.
As far as the fight itself, I think Nick and Cesar had a good gameplan, they used the typical big man push you against the fence and tire you out gameplan. That kind of threw me for a surprise because I saw one of his interviews and he had said he was going to really fight me and I thought we were going to go out there and trade Jiu Jitsu techniques and boxing techniques but a portion of the first and second rounds we were stuck on the fence trying to get away from him.
People said he was grabbing the fence or whatever but who cares no biggie, I was just surprised we were stuck on the fence at all. He wanted to use his weight on a guy who is 20 pounds smaller I guess. Hats off to him though, he is a good fighter and he took the decision.”
PC: In the lead up to the fight you were nothing but respectful to Nick the entire time, but it seemed like he really flipped the switch at weigh-ins and turned into the controversial fighter everyone has come to know. Did that change your mentality about things going into the fight?
BJ: “I don’t know, I really didn’t think about it too much, it didn’t even lift my heart rate up. Everybody was talking about how he tried to slap my head or something but that really didn’t even bother me, it was nothing.”
PC: OK, well what about his post-fight antics in the cage when he starting yelling at your boxing coach, Jason Parillo saying “I won that sh*t!!” repeatedly?
BJ: “I couldn’t believe my eyes. When he walked up to Parillo and said that stuff I thought at first that maybe Parillo had said something to him first but that wasn’t the case. It was probably uncalled for, but I think that’s just the way Nick operates, it was actually pretty comical.”
PC: In the actual fight itself, Nick threw everything he had at you and you were still there standing. Taking that into account, if the UFC ever says they want to book a rematch between you two down the road, do you think knowing that you took everything he had is an advantage for you going forward and would you even consider a rematch with him at this point?
BJ: “Nicks good, he’s got boxing skill and I know I better be ready for their gameplan of pushing me on the fence if we ever fight again. But ya, I have no fear I would take that fight anytime, I would love to take that fight.
I am in no position right now to think about that. Nick is fighting for the UFC championship and I’m actually not doing anything right now. I’m just trying to take it easy and enjoy life, but as far as that goes, nothing has changed, I’ll go out and fight the best guys anytime.”
PC: OK, let’s expand on that a bit. After the fight you announced your retirement. First of all, what was going on in your mind when you made that call and is that something that you are really going to stick to? Is BJ Penn retired?
BJ: “You know what, me and the team have talked about this for a long time and we talked about this after the first Frankie Edgar fight. In Fighting you really get a lot of motivation and a lot of fire when you’re out there trying to prove yourself and going out there being all you can be.
There’s nothing else more that I like than fighting, but every once in a while you need to take some time away. As of right now I don’t feel that burning desire, that burning urge to compete and I’m just going to hang out. If I feel that desire again than I will be back, but if I don’t feel it than there is no reason for me to make a return.
You really gotta feel it, there can be nothing else, when you’re standing in the ring across from your opponent he is thinking there is nothing else more important in the world than winning this fight and you have to be thinking the same thing. No matter if you’re better than him or not you have to be thinking the same thing. He’s got a dream and only a dream can kill a dream and your dream has to be bigger than his.
If your just there because you’re better than the opponent than you’re not in the right frame of mind. Fighting is one of the only sports that a guy not as good as you can beat you… Why? Because he wants it more.”
PC: So just to be clear, you’re not committing to retiring 100% but you’re not yet committing to return to fighting either is that right?
BJ: “That’s just the truth, I would love to fight again, I’d love to fight all these guys. Right now I don’t have that burning desire to compete so as I sit down and just enjoy life, when and if that desire comes back I will be ready to fight again. I’m sure it will.”
PC: Can you walk us through your mindset after the Diaz fight? You took more visible damage in this fight than we have ever seen, so what was that like for you and how did you feel?
BJ: “I guess it comes back to that first Frankie Edgar fight in Abu Dhabi, that is probably when I needed a break. With the loss and all that, that’s what was constantly playing in my head. The fact of the matter is I lost; I lost a decision so that’s playing in my head. I was thinking how I got physically beat up tonight and that whole thing of taking some time off, which has been in my head for probably the last year or longer. I’ve been with the UFC for so long and it was just all kind of spinning around in my head.
It was a tough fight, I just went through a tough fight and I guess I’ve been trying to express that I needed a break for awhile, but I was the one pushing myself, so go figure.”
PC: Can you tell everyone about how long you have been on the fence about this? We lost the title back in April of last year so did you start feeling this way after the Diego fight or after Abu Dhabi or when exactly did all this hit you?
BJ: “It’s hard to say, I guess it was when I started to see how hard the training camps are to make everything work. You have so many different personalities and trying to put that whole thing together is tough and with the fight everyone thinks you should train a certain way and all the people in the camp think differently.
That, plus when you don’t get the enjoyment of the success it just kind of wears on you a little bit. So it’s been going on for a long time probably ever since the Marinovich’s where here.”
PC: Now, my next question you have addressed a million times before, but let’s just go over it again as it pertains specifically to this last fight. Do you think in this fight with Nick Diaz that there was room for improvement in the cardio department, and if maybe you had a bit more endurance you could have taken the fight?
BJ: “There was definitely room for strength and conditioning type of improvement in it. We did tons of running but we kind of over reached ourselves a little bit so we had to do some extra recovery. If that hadn’t of happened we could have done some strength and conditioning but those are things that happened and that’s part of the game and you have to go in there with the best that you’ve got.
But I wish and I definitely would have liked to have topped off the last eight weeks with some of the explosive things that Marinovich does.”
PC: Now going forward if you decide to make a return to action will you incorporate more of the Marinovich explosive stuff into your camps?
BJ: “These guys at Phase Four definitely have a real good piece of the puzzle. They are really good at building your aerobic base. They are the best I have seen without a doubt. They really understand the periodization and this and that but I mean going forward for myself mentally if I was going to go through a training camp, or just in the day to day because I’m never going to stop training, I’d probably look at something like a blend, build up some good aerobic base and do some good explosive work too.”
PC: Another hot topic is how last week Cesar gave me a call to offer a team merger. What are your thoughts on that and is that something you would consider?
BJ: “I’ve known Cesar for awhile, whether I dislike him at certain times or not I could never stay mad at that guy. That being said, some of things Diaz has done kind of rub me the wrong way so I think I’m just going to kind of keep to myself and do my own thing.
I’m not even training for a fight anyways so there is really no reason why I would be up there right now”
PC: So that is a definite “NO”, correct?
BJ: “Exactly, I’m with Nova Uniao, I’ve been with them since 1999 and I’m still with them today.”
PC: Perfect, now let’s discuss some of the post-fight antics Nick has been making headlines with. The guy comes out of nowhere and starts doing a ton of press lately, something that he has never done in the past and it seems like he wants to bring you up for whatever reason.
He has gone on the record and called you bitter about the loss for breaking down his fight with GSP and saying that GSP will probably out wrestle him and he has said that he finds you disrespectful for kind of forgetting where you came from at Ralph’s and abandoning that team while promoting your own.
Since I have you here today, I just want to address all these things that have been going on and get your thoughts on all of that?
BJ: “There are just so many teachers, but I still respect Ralph Gracie to this day. I trained with him for a year and half until I was a purple belt and sometimes it’s hard to respect someone that says the kind of stuff that Ralph says about me but I still respect and appreciate him to this day.
I started training with Ralph Gracie from 1997 to 1999 so I trained with him for about a year and a half and than from there I moved back to Hawaii and I started training with Nova Uniao and I’ve been with them the whole time.
I see what he is saying though because Jiu Jitsu is a great martial art. I still think Jiu Jitsu is the perfect form of self defense. It can’t win a Mixed Martial Arts world title but it can definitely keep you alive on the streets. If you had to run away and someone tackled you, you could defend yourself and run away again, but we have had so many teachers over the years.
I’ve stayed with Nova Uniao for 12 years now, I’ve always stayed with them, but there are so many different teachers over the years from my junior college wrestling coach, Jim Root at West Valley, to more and more and more. I mean, so many different teachers have taught me through the years that I don’t even know. I guess the learning never stops.
What I Said about his fight with GSP wasn’t even that bad, the whole world knows GSP is going to use his wrestling to take Nick down, he’s not gonna stand there and just box with him. That’s nothing personal, that’s just the way it is.”
PC: Sounds good BJ, I think we have pretty much addressed everything at this point in time and I appreciate you opening up for the fans. I guess my last question would be what your plans are for the next several months and what you are most looking forward to in your time away from competing?
BJ: “I’m looking forward to spending time with my daughter now and the birth of my new daughter in December and just kind of taking it easy. I’m still going to be training and teaching and doing those things but I’m not going to be training to compete and I think that is what I am most looking forward to.”