Jason Parillo is one of the mixed martial arts world's top striking coaches. Notable students include Michael Bisping, Rafael dos Anjos, Cristiane "Cyborg" Justino, and B.J. Penn. In an interview with "The Schmo," Parillo opens up about his coaching philosophies, specifically as pertains to "The Prodigy," an MMA legend that hasn't won a fight since 2010.
Now 40, Penn holds a professional MMA record of 16-14-2. This includes recent losses to the likes of Yair Rodriguez, Dennis Siver, Ryan Hall, and last week at UFC Rochester, Clay Guida. Parillo has worked with Penn for many years, and despite wanting him to call it quits on his fighting career, contends that he will support his fighter to the end.
"B.J. Penn is a fighter's fighter, he's gonna try to fight for the rest of his life until he can't anymore, until they completely take it away from him, but at the end of the day, I've been told the UFC's not gonna give him a fight," admits Parillo.
The 44-year-old coach understands and respects the drive that keeps a fighter, no matter his/her age or quality, to yearn for sanctioned combat. But he's also not shy about telling his fighter to throw in the towel. "You say it time and time again now … it's a good way to finish off, let's ride off into the sunset." Regarding Penn specifically, Parillo is accustomed to fielding retirement questions. "I get asked that question as well, please tell B.J. Penn not to fight again."
Parillo explains that Penn, despite his losing record, isn't being destroyed in defeat. "One, B.J.'s last fight, you see some of these guys they're getting knocked the f— out, they're getting knocked out. You know, B.J. Penn's not getting knocked out."
Prompted to consider that it's conditioning over skill that's contributing to Penn's falls, Parillo readily concedes. "He's gassing out … That's exactly what it is, he's f—ing gassing out. It drives me bats— crazy because, you know, a guy loses gas. I don't care how talented he is, I don't care what he knows, I don't care what you're telling him technically in between rounds, or technically anywhere, when a guy doesn't have a gas tank, you know, you're dead."
With past performances in mind, Parillo confesses that should Penn be offered a new fight, the RVCA coach would be honest about his viewpoint. "Condition is huge, and that's something, if he was to make the decision, if they were to give him a fight again, you know, do I say we don't need to do this anymore? Of course, of course, that's what you say."
But ultimately, it's just not in Parillo's nature to send his fighter packing should he disapproves of a matchup or fight. "That's not my personality and that's not how I work," said Parillo. "I got a connection with these athletes."
Parillo supports his stance by citing his coaching record. "I don't have a falling out with my athletes. I don't tell them to go f— themselves, and they don't tell me to go f— myself. They respect me and I respect them. And I think that's what's most important. And if everybody's opinion is this guy, this athlete shouldn't fight anymore. And my opinion is that they shouldn't fight anymore, but they are gonna fight still. I wanna do everything in my power to try to help them out during the whole process no matter what. Even if I say no you're not going, and they say, yeah I'm gonna fight. Well, I'm gonna be there for you. If they ask me to be there for them, I'm gonna be there for them."
Parillo further explains that his loyalty as a coach overrides all other sentiments. "Hey, we've been doing this together for a long f**king time, you know, if you wanna go out and risk getting your ass kicked, I got your back, let's go out there and I'm gonna try to, you know, hopefully, give you some type of advice if I can, and if you're in too thick and you're in a bad situation, hopefully, I can help get you out of there."