Penn on Cutting Weight, Getting Fat & More

By Joe Hall Aug 6, 2009
PHILADELPHIA -- Now that B.J. Penn is back to fighting at 155 pounds, having returned from another jaunt at 170, much of the pre-UFC 101 talk has focused on him being in excellent shape.

It’s true; he looks fit ahead of his title defense Saturday against Kenny Florian. But he also said Thursday that cutting weight is what led to him putting on weight. Penn explained that trimming several pounds before fights had a negative impact afterward.

“As soon as the fight was (over), I’d start eating everything I wanted,” he said during the UFC 101 news conference. “Over time, I think, that kind of put more weight on me. It’s strange to say, but I think cutting weight made me fat.”

Dana White then chimed in on what had become a slightly awkward discussion about Penn’s weight and motivation: “It’s not even about being fat. It’s about being so good and so talented that he doesn’t have to train as hard as everybody else does.”

That’s the popular conception. Penn made a point Thursday, however, to refuse the stereotype of the hyper-talented athlete who doesn’t work hard.

“I guess you get stuck with a stigma or whatever that you don’t train hard and then it just runs like wildfire between everybody,” he said. “That’s just how it goes. … No matter how good of shape I ever get in, until the day I die, I don’t think I’ll ever get the respect that I train hard.”

White disagreed, even though Penn didn’t seem to be addressing him as much as everyone, and said the respect is there.

“I haven’t seen him this skinny since 2000,” White noted.

The UFC president heaped praise on Penn but also said that “70 percent” of what the Hawaiian has accomplished in MMA came while he was out of shape. In a way, that’s a compliment too. In another way, it’s not.

“The biggest enemy of B.J. Penn is B.J. Penn,” White said. “The kid’s been so talented his whole life that you get to a point in your life where focusing and training and all that stuff is hard. He and I have butted heads over this too, like many other things, but what I see going into this fight right now is a focused, fired-up B.J. Penn that does not want to lose his lightweight title.”

The old punch-and-burp. One reporter asked Penn what he thought of White’s “unique” style of promotion, which can involve plenty of hype and support but also words like “pudgy” and “fat.” It was Penn’s chance to fire back, but he wisely dodged the inquiry with some humor.

“I think Dana looks great,” Penn said, and even opponent Kenny Florian laughed.
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