The Motivation of BJ Penn


B.J. Penn. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

"It's probably the last time you're ever going to see me in here. I can't keep; I want to perform at the top level. That's it." - BJ Penn's UFC 137 post-fight comments.

After turning down bouts with Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and UFC welterweight Josh Koscheck, Penn made headlines this week when he responded to a challenge from prospect turned contender Rory MacDonald.

What changed Penn's mind?

In a recent interview, MacDonald issued a challenge to the then retired Penn saying, “Right now I feel there is a guy that I want to fight before he leaves the sport and that’s BJ Penn. That’s a guy I really want to fight. I respect him a lot. He’s a legend and I think it’d be a really good matchup for me to have that fight in Toronto.”

When seeing that Penn had accepted the fight, I asked myself, why?

In an interview with Just Scrap Radio (touch of gloves MMAFighting.com), Penn said, "I got a lot of offers from all these other guys to fight, but when I got the offer from Rory, I said, 'Good, I get to fight that brain of Tri-Star Gym.’ A lot of it is [trainer] Firas [Zihabi]. They got a good thing going on up there, they have a good team, and they're making a lot of waves. Of course, they got St. Pierre, who is going to go down as the greatest welterweight in history, and now they got another guy they think will be the champion. I’m not thinking about any belts or anything, but I’m pretty good myself. I want to show them, I want to show the world that you’re not going to just walk in and kick my butt for four rounds. No way. You’re going to the hospital, too. If I go to the hospital, you’re going to the hospital, too."

After reading Penn’s quote it helps paint a better picture of what’s going through the Hilo, Hawaii natives mind. Penn has a rich history with MacDonald’s teammate, UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. The two have fought twice with St. Pierre winning both, one by split decision and the other a four round stoppage. Penn has always wanted another shot at St. Pierre, who has since taken MacDonald under his wing, playing a mentor role while training together at Tri-Star Gym.

MacDonald is rapidly rising through the welterweight ranks after reeling off impressive victories over Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle and Che Mills. MacDonald’s sole blemish came in a bout with UFC interim champion Carlos Condit. MacDonald controlled the bout for two and a half rounds before Condit’s experience and heart took over and he was able to secure the TKO victory at 4:53 of the 3rd.

Here’s to hoping that a bout with MacDonald is the motivation Penn needs to get the hunger and drive back to propel him to the upper echelons of the welterweight division.

 

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