UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn visited Hickam Air Force Base to meet with some wounded warriors. It's his way of supporting the troops and boosting the morale of those still recovering from injuries in combat. Even he admits he was a little rattled.
"Yeah definitely nervous when I came out, some of these guys they've been through a lot and everybody's like oh oh they just want to see you but you're still nervous," says Penn.
There's mutual respect and admiration here coming from a common bond. Penn appreciates what they're doing for their country. The wounded warriors are in awe of what he's accomplished in the ring.
"I never thought I'd actually get the chance to meet a UFC fighter. He seemed pretty down to earth for being that famous," says Corporal Bradley Herold.
Penn also appreciates the support he gets from the military. He knows some of his biggest fans are in the service.
"When the military watches the fights there's no doubt it's an educated crowd. They know what they're looking at emotionally, physically and technically with what's going on," says Penn.
So it turns out that Penn had no reason to be nervous. The crowd loved him and couldn't take enough pictures. He's visited many other military bases, and for him, it never gets old.
"It's just good if you can get one smile on their face or make them laugh I'm just kind of happy with that."
"It's good to know that people even though they're really famous actually care," says Herold.
Penn had one other mission at Hickam, flying with the Thunderbirds. And yes he was nervous about that too.
There's a vid there as well.
I always enjoy seeing fighters outside of the usually trashy competitive arena that is MMA. Helps me connect with them a little more. Nice on BJ. Repped!