In addition to being one of the sport’s great fighters, BJ Penn has also been one of it’s great hype men. He understands the art of promoting a fight, and when he wants to he’s one of the best at it.
Penn hasn’t been as vocal leading in to his most recent fights as he has in the past though. That’s especially true of his fight against Nick Diaz this weekend at UFC 137. In fact, it almost feels like he’s gone out of his way to make sure he doesn’t say anything that could be taken out of context and used to upset Diaz.
As Penn explained in a blog post he penned for Yahoo! Sports, the shift in pre-fight attitude really comes down to the respect he has for Diaz and his own maturation as an adult.
[Nick Diaz’s] a great fighter who I respect and I like… That’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed away from the hype for this fight, but not the only reason. I’ve not even read part 1 of this Yahoo! blog, I sent it over via email and I haven’t seen it published on the site and I won’t read this one either once I am done doing it.
I was told today that Yahoo! called the blog “The Penn is Mightier,” which is pretty funny and a good title. But I won’t read anything, no interviews or previews. I won’t watch the Countdown TV preview show, nothing, because I want to stay away from the hype for the rest of my career.
There’s nothing wrong with talking smack and backing it up. Muhammad Ali did it and I did it in my career, but honestly I feel like I am too old now for that. As you get older, have a family of your own, talking about opponents stops being something you want to do or be part of.
I am still very passionate about MMA and my career. I love fighting but I want to save that passion for the fights and the training.
Penn adds that he still wants to win big fights and hopefully another title. Just don’t expect him to put the same kind of energy into hyping those fights like he has in the past.