Exclusive: Rich Chou and Pedro Carrasco Join BJPenn.Com Radio from Seattle
Last night we had two member of Team Penn join us on BJPenn.Com Radio live from Seattle. Former Strikeforce matchmaker and long time Penn family friend, Rich Chou and BJPenn.Com editor Pedro Carrasco called in to discuss how things were going in the days leading up to BJ’s return to the Octagon on Saturday night against Rory MacDonald.
Chou was on the line first and discussed BJ’s arrival and how impressed everyone is with the shape Penn showed up to Seattle in. While everyone is fixated on Penn’s physical shape, Chou was quick to point out that Penn is in a great place mentally as well.
“Everything is going great, pretty smooth actually,” Chou told BJPenn.Com Radio. “I know everyone says it before every fight, but this is the best BJ has looked in quite some time. It really is the truth and I think we are very happy with how his training camp went. We all can’t wait to see him fight. The year off has really lit a fire under him and he’s very motivated. It’s going to be fun watching him do what he does best come Saturday.”
Before every fight you will hear journalists and fans talk about how a certain fighter is going to be the best version of himself. When you’re talking about BJ Penn you understand that he has had so many memorable performances and if he shows up and puts on the best fight of his career then it’s going to be a long night for MacDonald. Too many people are counting Penn out against his much younger opponent and that may come back to bite them in the ass.
“From what I’ve read BJ is the biggest underdog on the whole card,” said Chou. “I don’t think too many people are giving him a chance against Rory. This is probably the first time in his career where he has faced such overwhelming odds and having this many people doubt his abilities. I think it’s going to bring out the best in him.”
“We were having a conversation the other day as we were watching footage of MacDonald and he’s very talented and he may be the future of the division, but his biggest win to date might be against Mike Pyle. No disrespect to Pyle, but he’s not a former champion and he’s not in title contention. There’s a lot of hype around Rory, he’s young, athletic, talented and I’m sure he works hard, but I have no doubt in my mind BJ will beat him.”
A lot of the focus has been on the size advantage that MacDonald will have over Penn. Rory will probably walk into the Octagon at 190+ lbs while BJ will weigh in at or near the welterweight limit of 170lbs. MacDonald will look to use that size advantage to slow Penn down and tire him out, but Team Penn is aware of this and brought in some extra muscle to help prepare BJ for this bout.
“We’ve brought in a lot of big guys into his camp over the last several weeks,” admitted Chou. “Rory is a big, strong guy, but I don’t think he’s a better wrestler than Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley and I don’t think he’s a better striker than Tarec Saffiedine. Rory’s good, but we’ve had some really great guys in Hilo and BJ is ready.”
A lot of speculation has been made about the future of Penn after this fight with MacDonald. Will he fight again? If so will he remain at welterweight or drop back down to lightweight? BJ was a guest on BJPenn.Com Radio a few weeks ago and he said his sole focus is on December 8th, a sentiment echoed by Chou.
“Right now we are just focusing on this fight,” Chou offered. “None of us have had a conversation about anything beyond this bout with Rory. I know we spent the last few minutes saying the hype surrounding Rory might not be justified, but at the same time there’s definitely respect for his abilities. It’s a real fight and we haven’t begun to look beyond Saturday night. We’ll see what happens and take it from there.”
“It’s going to be a fun fight we know Rory is going to bring, but I know we are going to have a great night on Saturday. I’ve watched BJ evolve over the last month and get the fire back. He’s having fun again. On Saturday everyone will get to experience what we have over the past few months, this camp has gone on awhile because it had gotten postponed after Rory suffered a cut while training.”
Carrasco joined the show to talk about the wager I have going with Alchemist Chairman Jeff Aronson. Much like the rest of us, Pedro was supremely confident that we would be the ones collecting on that bet after Saturday night. He also shared with us some of the thoughts put out by members of the media conglomerate in Seattle.
“I was with the media all day today because it was the first day of the media gathering at the open workouts,” said Carrasco. “The consensus on the floor is pretty much in favor of BJ as far as the analysts go who are here in Seattle. With BJ being in the shape that he’s in people are picking him as the winner., let the odds makers have their opinions.”
We then discussed the other bouts that are on the main card including the main event which will feature UFC Lightweight Champion Benson Henderson defending his title against Nate Diaz. The other bout talked about prominently was the light heavyweight showdown between former champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Alexander Gustafsson.
“I like the main event and while I don’t want to pick a winner because I’m friends with both guys I do know that Nate looks very mean,” Carrasco shared. “I saw him today at the open workout and he was a little more social than normal. He seems to be in a really good mood and very calm. Ben was kind of the more quiet guy today so I don’t know what that means, but it looks like a little bit of a role reversal.”
“How can you root against Shogun,” Chou asked. “He’s an underdog in his bout as well. I’m going to go with the older guys. BJ and Shogun both have the experience factor and have been in some wars. Shogun has been involved in a few of the best fights over the past few years, he has no quit and I think he’ll pull it off.”