||04-25-2011 06:44 PM
BJ Penn: "I Feel My Clock Ticking"
In the Octagon that night, former UFC champ B.J. Penn sounded like a defeated, deflated fighter. He'd just fought to a draw with Jon Fitch at UFC 127, and yet the way he talked in his post-fight interview, it sounded like he might be ready to walk away from MMA for good.
But as Penn told Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, that was just the disappointment talking.
"I guess I was just bummed out because I know I can beat that guy, and there I was getting my butt kicked in the third round and ending up with a draw," Penn said.
Regardless of how downtrodden he may have sounded in his post-fight interview, however, Penn is far from done. In fact, the way he sees it, there are still some major goals left on his to-do list, such as recapturing the UFC welterweight title and then going back down to lightweight and winning that belt once more before retiring.
"Those are definitely two dreams of mine," said Penn. "I know those are big aspirations, but I guess you've got to shoot for the stars."
The fact that he thinks he still has the skills and the ability to do those things was part of what made the outcome of the Fitch fight so hard to swallow, he said. He'd had a good training camp right up until he injured his shoulder in the last couple weeks, but he still felt like he was in a position to win the fight going into the final round.
"I knew I could do it, and I ended up making some mistakes," he said. "Whether it's in the training camp or in the fight, there's things that have to be fixed, and I was just at a point where I was like, aren't I past making these mistakes already? But I guess you just keep learning, and things keep changing. ...You just try to find what works for you at the end of the day."
It's been nearly two months since the fight, and Penn said he's watched it all the way through only once. While standing in the Octagon following the disastrous third round, he seemed grateful to go home with the draw. Now that he's had more time to think about it, however, he's not so sure that it was a 10-8 round for Fitch.
"I really didn't know at the time. I was just kind of bummed out about how it went. But looking back at the fight, I would have to say I've seen Jon Fitch get many 10-9 rounds that have looked like that. I've seen him do that to Ben Saunders and Thiago Alves and many different people, and he got 10-9 rounds for that. But at the end of the day, I think everything unfolds the way it should, and if me and Jon Fitch get the opportunity to step in the ring and meet each other again, that would be a blessing for both guys."
Penn and Fitch were originally slated for a rematch at UFC 132 in July, but Fitch pulled out of the fight with a shoulder injury. Since Penn was dealing with a shoulder injury of his own, he then decided to withdraw from the event as well, though he said he's still unsure whether he'll need surgery.
At 32 years old, Penn's plan now is to stay active and try to accomplish as many of the goals on his checklist as possible before his career comes to an end. There was a time when he thought he'd be fighting well into his forties, he said. Now he just wants to make the most of whatever time he has left.
"I guess in a little bit of a way, I feel my clock ticking. But I don't feel it ticking like it's going to be over real soon, but ticking like I want to accomplish a few more things. I want to fight. I want to be active. I want to make money. I want to get better and have more of these life experiences, and that's it. I want to stay busy. I don't want to sit on the shelf."