(Originally written in October of 2015 – reprinted today because it’s even more relevant)
BJ Penn recently made an appearance on UFC tonight and said that he wants to come out of retirement to fight featherweight contender Nik Lentz. To put it mildly, Penn’s announcement was a head scratcher.
Penn reasoned that he was tired of hearing about nutritionist and weight cutting expert Mike Dolce. Penn had employed Dolce to assist him in making 145 pounds, for his last fight on July 6, 2014, against Frankie Edgar. Penn looked god awful in losing the Edgar fight and a war of words between Dolce and Penn ensued.
They had both dissed one another on multiple occasions after the Edgar defeat. Penn claimed that Dolce encouraged him to use diuretics leading up to the Edgar fight; causing him to feel terribly weak. Penn, on his own website, said, “The day before the weigh-in I was at 147 pounds. On that day, I addressed some concerns to Dolce about how I could not carry my bags or walk up any large amount of steps. My heart rate would shoot up and I would feel like fainting, but his approach didn’t change. He didn’t have me sit in a Jacuzzi to sweat, like you usually see him do. All he did was give me pills to suck all the weight out of me, but he didn’t have the knowledge, or the expertise to put the water back in, without an I.V.”
In contrast, Dolce claimed he actually had very little influence on Penn’s diet; joining Penn’s camp in Hawaii only a few weeks prior to the Edgar fight. On Joe Rogan’s podcast, Dolce blamed Penn’s loss on a lack of training, saying, “(I had issues with) the training frequency. I don’t believe he was training enough. All the other athletes I work with train much more often. (He trained) once a day, but not quite every day. The type of training was less. I don’t know why there were no coaches there that were truly able to make influence.”
So, on UFC Tonight, Penn challenged Lentz to a fight. Penn referred to Lentz as Dolce’s “boy” and best fighter under Dolce’s tutelage. Penn wanted to come out of retirement for this “grudge” match against Lentz to get even with Dolce.
Lentz quickly and smartly went on social media, accepted the fight, and dissed Penn. Lentz said that BJ was “a spoiled rich kid” and should stay in “obscurity.” It was the perfect response to Penn and would be the biggest fight in Lentz’s career. However, this is in no way, shape or form, a good idea for Penn.
If you have been following MMA for the last 15 years, BJ Penn is a legend. He fought in five weight classes and won the UFC title at Welterweight and Lightweight. He routinely beat bigger, stronger fighters. He even fought former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Lyoto Machida to a decision. He WAS truly special.
The last several years have not been so kind though. All of the wars with Matt Hughes, Georges St. Pierre, and other elite fighters, along with father time, started to hamper Penn’s performances. He began to lose more and more frequently.
In Penn’s last 7 fights, he has gone 1-5-1. He has been soundly defeated by Frankie Edgar, Nick Diaz, and Rory McDonald. His last win was a 21 second knockout against an older Matt Hughes in 2010. After his last loss to Edgar, it was obvious that Penn should retire. Penn truly got annihilated by a fighter who weighed 145 pounds. It was over.
And it still should be over. Penn, 18 months after the Edgar loss, should not be fighting anyone, let alone a guy like Lentz, who has been beating the best featherweights in the world for the past three years. Penn has taken enough poundings over the last decade, against bigger and stronger guys. Enough is enough. There is no point to coming back.
It would truly be a shame for Penn to get beat up anymore. These stories always end the same way. The Jens Pulvers, Mark Colemans, Ken Shamrocks, and Gary Goodridges of the world kept coming back for the money and glory, but the end result was never different. More damage. More head trauma. More disappointment. It’s hard for many athletes to walk away from the limelight, but it’s more important to be able to walk; period. Hopefully, Penn, or Zuffa, will realize this and keep Penn out of the Octagon for good.
No More BJ Please!