Penn’s Trainer to Aoki: Come on Down

By Greg Savage Dec 13, 2009
Rudy Valentino has never seen B.J. Penn put everything together the way he has his last two fights. That’s pretty remarkable coming from the straight-shooting Hawaiian, who’s worked with Penn since the early days of a very successful fight career.

UFC President Dana White was quick to echo the same sentiments after Penn’s demolition of Diego Sanchez Saturday night in Memphis.

“I’ve been waiting for this for years from B.J. Penn,” said White, “to take it serious and start training and putting the effort into it. He’s the real deal. He’s been coasting on talent for years and now he’s taking it serious.”

Valentino credited a big part of Penn’s success to his improved conditioning, something Penn has lacked at times. With new strength and conditioning coaches on board, Penn is going to be tough to beat, according to his kickboxing coach.

“It just boosted his confidence within the last two fights and especially this fight, when he transformed what Gary and Marv Marinovich did with him in his strength and conditioning and his cardio work and agility work into the fight,” said Valentino.

“They’re really valuable to us because when B.J. used to fight, he used to look at the time and wonder, ‘How much time do I got?’ He wasn’t confident in his conditioning, and that’s so important. He had a mental block like, ‘Can I make it for that three or four or five rounds?’ He would always have that.”

Penn’s gains were apparent Saturday in his one-sided beatdown of a very game Sanchez.

“Everyday we would film him training, and we were watching his speed on his punches, watching his scrambles, watching him defend takedowns,” said Valentino. “You saw Diego, he couldn’t even do nothing with B.J. and he’s taken down a lot of guys. He was neutralized totally on the standup and on the striking.”

Saturday’s performance should not be viewed as an isolated incident either, Valentino noted.

“I don’t think anyone can hang with him at 155 pounds,” stated the veteran kickboxing coach. “Who knows, maybe try to get [Shinya] Aoki from Japan? He’s talking s--- too now, saying he thinks he can beat B.J. Come on down bro, we waiting. Come to the UFC. I would love to see that fight.”

Another fight everyone in the Penn camp would like to see is a third match with Georges St. Pierre. They thought they should have gotten the nod in the first bout, and after the greasing controversy following the second fight, Penn and his team have stated they would love to get a third crack at the top welterweight in the world.

In order for that to happen, White has said Penn will have to “clean out” the lightweight division. Valentino says that’s not a problem.

“What we’re going to do,” Valentino said, “is make a legacy in the 155 class … and from there we move on to 170.”
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