When B.J. Penn announced his retirement after an October loss to Nick Diaz the words coming out of his mouth were genuine. However, Penn has always been an emotional individual, and time has both dulled the pain of defeat and fanned the fire to compete, giving way to a change of heart causing “The Prodigy” to strap his gloves on at least one more time for a fight this September against Rory MacDonald.
Recently it came to light that part of Penn’s plan to prepare for MacDonald involved a stop at renowned training center American Kickboxing Academy, undoubtedly an understandable endeavor considering the former double-division champion spent time there years ago, the gym features some of the sport’s top instruction, and the stop in California provides an easier acclimation to the time difference between Hawaii and the mainland. However, apparently Penn was denied the opportunity at the urging of fellow welterweight Jon Fitch.
The news came to light in a recent video blog from Penn discussing his state of mind leading up to his meeting with MacDonald.
Fitch and Penn faced off in February 2011 where they fought to a Draw. Shortly afterward the two were booked for a rematch, though it ultimately fell apart as did any potential friendship between the two due to a smattering of online smack-talk.
Fitch’s pettiness about the issue, assuming Penn is being truthful in his insinuation, is disappointing. The reality is he and Penn are not going to lock horns at any point in the immediate future. Penn is clearly eyeing retirement, not an extended run in the Octagon, and he will be an underdog against MacDonald. Instead of being an obstacle in what might be the final fight of a Hall of Fame career, Fitch could let bygones be bygones and help Penn get ready for MacDonald (an opponent Fitch is far more likely to face down the road). He is a grown man and nothing said, at least publicly, was tasteless enough to be taken so personally.
Now Fitch has been left looking like a bad guy, an image he certainly doesn’t need in light of his struggles to entertain the audience despite a tremendous record in the ring. The only reasonable explanation for putting the kibosh on Penn coming to AKA is a business move in hopes of inducing Penn’s anger to the point he demands a fight with Fitch, a smart idea at least where getting a big payday is concerned. Beyond that, it’s time to do the thing that fighters do so well after beating each other up a bit – hug it out and show respect.
Check out Penn’s video blog below and judge things for yourself:
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC