Every time an aging fighter loses, be it somebody like Fedor Emelianenko, or our very own BJ Penn, there follows an immediate tidal wave of calls for their retirement. In the opinion of MMA pioneer Phil Baroni, who has been fighting for nearly 20 years, however, nobody should be able to tell a fighter when it’s time to retire – least of all a member of the media who has never fought before.
Phil Baroni sounded off on the topic on the latest episode of BJ Penn Radio.
“BJ Penn didn’t have to fight, I don’t have to fight either. I just want to prove something to myself,” he said. “That’s my point about these reporters who say ‘this guy shouldn’t fight, that guy shouldn’t fight.’ It’s not about you! Fuck you! It’s not about you, 100%. You never fight. You never fight, you write about fighting. Who cares what you think.”
“[They say] ‘I don’t want to see this guy fight, I don’t want to see that guy fight’… Don’t watch it then motherfucker! Shut the fuck up. It’s not about you, it’s about that guy. Maybe somebody wants to go out with a win. I don’t want to lose my last couple fights! I want to fucking win. So I think a guy deserves that [chance] sometimes.”
Baroni then countered the argument that it’s fair to encourage fighters to retire when their health is believed to be on the line.
“Everybody knew the dangers [of MMA] going into it,” he said. “Everybody always knew how dangerous this shit was. Getting hit in the head is never good for you. Getting hit in the head, getting put in a choke, getting your limbs twister… as far as I know, that was never ok.”
“That’s just a part of it,” he said of brain health issues like CTE. “If I want to do it, then I want to do it. If I want to go skydiving, I could fucking die too. Why can’t I go skydiving? I can do whatever the fuck I want. It’s a free country. If I want to fucking fight, I should be able to fight. If somebody wants to fucking fight me, then that’s the most basic of all things. I’m a man, I’m going to fight the motherfucker.”
What do you think of these comments from “The New York Bad Ass” Phil Baroni?
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 6/29/2017.