UFC 101 Call Notes: Penn, Florian, Griffin, Silva

By Joe Hall Jul 28, 2009
A lightweight title fight between champion B.J. Penn and challenger Kenny Florian will headline UFC 101 on Aug. 8 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia. UFC middleweight titleholder Anderson Silva is also on the card; he’ll take on Forrest Griffin in an intriguing 205-pound bout.

Notes from the 101 conference call Tuesday:

Penn’s primary motivation

“It’s gotta be the previous fight,” said B.J. Penn, referencing his loss to Georges St. Pierre. “It’s gotta be getting my butt kicked and wanting to come back and get back to form.”

Penn mentioned the GSP greasing allegations fiasco and said upcoming opponent Kenny Florian had made him look like a liar: “It was a double whammy on me. Everything was just kind of building up on me and irritating me a lot. But besides that, I lost my last fight and I want to get back in there. … I want to get in the ring and I want to take care of business.”

For the GSP fight, Penn believes he trained too long. It was his dream fight and he said he might have started preparation too soon and burned himself out. He’s training differently now.

As for saying Florian made him look like a liar, Penn was referencing a text message he said Florian sent Dave Weintraub prior to the Penn-GSP bout. Weintraub was in Hawaii, working on a book about Penn. Penn said Florian texted Weintraub and told him that GSP greases. That warning, Penn said, led to his camp notifying the Nevada State Athletic Commission prior to the fight that GSP should be watched for greasing. Florian later denied sending a text about GSP, though, which Penn feels made him look like a liar.

On Tuesday, Florian acknowledged that he had sent Weintraub a text about greasing. However, Florian said the fighter he was speaking about was Roger Huerta, not GSP: “It had nothing to do with Georges.”

Getting personal

“I don’t know how I get caught up in this stuff,” Penn answered when asked about the personal animosity that has surrounded his recent bouts. “It’s unbelievable.”

The UFC lightweight champion said he really didn’t like Sherk for “cheating” and the back-and-forth with GSP started when he was hyping the fight. Then, Penn said, the “UFC Primetime” show wanted to portray him as a jerk instead of someone preparing for a super fight and then Dana White butted in with the business about Penn not training properly and being surrounded by yes-men. That’s Penn’s account, and his point is that everything has been blown out of proportion.

He’s ticked at the media, too.

“I didn’t like how the media portrayed me after the GSP fight,” Penn said, specifically mentioning MMA Weekly, Sherdog and MMA Junkie. “I’m done working with you guys.”

With that said, Penn sounded ambivalent about building the Florian fight around personal or contrived hostility. He brought up the Weintraub text first but then later suggested it was insignificant when it comes down to two top-notch lightweights fighting for a title.

Silva-Griffin

Not much new from Anderson Silva or Forrest Griffin. As always on these calls, Griffin sounded as if he’d rather be clinging to a donut float in the middle of the Arctic Ocean than speaking to a bunch of media types. Who could blame him?

The former UFC 205-pound champ did say that it would be key to stay as loose and relaxed as Silva. You can’t be too aggressive, Griffin said, and you can’t follow him around either. Steady pressure, know you’ll get hit and miss, make him carry your weight -- that kind of thing.

“I know if I bring the game I’m capable of,” Griffin said, “it’ll be a good fight.”

Silva had to deal with more questions about his recent performances, which have been deemed lackluster by many.

Again he attributed that perception to ignorance on behalf of viewers and lame strategy on behalf of opponents, but he was nicer in how he said it.

Ed Soares, his manager and interpreter, said Silva would defend his 185 title against valid contenders but that he is most interested in “history-making” fights regardless of weight.
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