It's a kinda long read, it gets better towards the end when GSP gets brought up.......
IGN: Have you played UFC Undisputed 2010? What'd you think about the last game?
BJ Penn: I haven't gotten a chance to play the 2010 game, but I did play the first UFC Undisputed. I think it's a great game. It's very realistic.
IGN: In last year's UFC game, there wasn't much variation between the fighters. Rich Franklin, a natural southpaw, fought as a right-handed fighter, and anyone with Jiu Jitsu as his grappling style could use rubber guard, even though he might not use it in real life. How's the 2010 game different?
Penn: I was talking to a couple people from I guess THQ and they said the new game's gonna be much better. You're gonna have right handed fighters and left handed fighters. I expect a great game to be coming out. I haven't seen anything, but yeah I heard the grappling flows a lot smoother, you can fight in the clinch, and a bunch of different things. They said it's going to be a big difference.
IGN: Is THQ giving you a really good rear naked choke? They should.
Penn: (Laughing) Um, I dunno, we'll see.
IGN: We heard you've spent some time with the game's development team. Did you give them any feedback on last year's game?
Penn: Yeah. A couple of guys came over to shoot the marketing video for it, and we were hanging out and talking about the game. I've played the first Undisputed a couple of times, I'm not very good but I'll use Brock and try to smash people. Honestly, I haven't played it much to get that good. Any time I go against any good guys they just trash me down, they end up submitting me and stuff.
BJ on tactics and training...
IGN: Jon Fitch recently made the controversial statement that "the closed guard is dead" in MMA. Obviously you're a big Jiu Jitsu guy, how do you feel about the statement?
Penn: I think I remember hearing some people talk about that. I guess if you're in the closed guard you either gotta go for a submission or go for a sweep, or get back to your feet. Because, you know, the way the rules are set, the rules are set for whoever has the better takedowns. If you've got the better takedowns, you're gonna be on the guy. It doesn't matter what the guy on the bottom does. But I definitely think you can use the closed guard. Guys like Minotauro, they show it. It's just different people's games. But Jon Fitch is right, if you're on the bottom in your closed guard you're gonna be losing by decision for sure.
IGN: We don't often see you in the guard. Is that just because you're trying to avoid the judge's negative view of being on bottom?
Penn: Yeah, I guess. I try, I tried a couple of times here and there to do stuff from the guard, but not as much as I'm on top I guess.
IGN: We saw some rubber guard from you in your last fight with Georges St-Pierre. Is that something we'll see more of? What do you like about rubber guard?
Penn: Yeah, definitely. I mean, as long as I can hold onto the guy for a couple of seconds, that'd probably help. That would probably build my confidence in the rubber guard a little more. I just really like the mission control position, to tell you the truth. All the stuff that comes off it--the omoplatas, the arm bars, and the triangles--that stuff's pretty self-explanatory. If you've got a pretty good idea of Jiu Jitsu, that stuff kinda blends well. But I really think the mission control, there's something there. You can kind of pin the guy down, and you can kind of hit him if he stays close to you. I definitely like the rubber guard. I always try to use it, especially when I'm just grappling or at the gym.
Want to use the cage in UFC Undisputed 2010? Go ahead.
IGN: How do you balance training in Hawaii versus training in California?
Penn: Right now I'm just training in Hawaii, because we're just gonna go straight to Abu Dhabi from here, we're gonna go a little earlier. But it's good training in both places. They both have their benefits in different ways. I think it's good to acclimate while you're up there in Cali, if you're going to be fighting there in North America, it's good to acclimate up there. It's just two different places. People might say I'm more disciplined up there, but I think it's just because we had a private gym up there, nobody to bother us. That's a big key, because you could be up in California at a public gym and you still have to run into everybody and it's harder to focus on the job at hand.
IGN: Acclimating--do you mean to the elevation or time? What are you doing for your next fight in Abu Dhabi?
Penn: A time thing, different weather, different air. It affects you when you travel, definitely. We're probably gonna go two to three weeks early to adjust to the time zone over there.
IGN: The Abu Dhabi fight is an outdoor event. Is that any different for you, or is it just another fight?
Penn: I've fought outdoors before, so. We'll see how it goes. One thing for sure we'll find out what's gonna happen on April 10th, huh? (Laughing)
IGN: Also on that Abu Dhabi card is Renzo Gracie. Do you two have some history?
Penn: No, no. Not really. I see him around, we fought one time. Beside that, I hung out with him the whole time over there. He took good care of us because he's really used to going to Abu Dhabi. He said it was the 11th or 12th time this year. But I don't got nothing against Renzo.
IGN: In recent interviews, you seem grown up than in interviews past. Leading up to the Georges St-Pierre and Sean Sherk fights, you had some playful trash talk. But going into the Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez fights, not so much. Were you humbled by the GSP fight, or is that just you naturally growing up?
Penn: I think it's, a lot has to do with the whole controversy with the GSP fight. I don't ever want to be put in a position again where people are worrying more about my trash talk than if the other guy's playing by the rules, you know. I think when it comes down to something like that, there's no comparison to someone hyping up the fight and someone cheating, that's two things you can't compare. And I think a lot of people blew over his cheating because I was hyping the fight. With that said, I'm still the same person. I was always a nice person before the UFC Primetime show. Maybe I said some things that I regretted later. But whatever, it's life I guess.
IGN: So you think if you hadn't said things like "to the death," there would've been more credibility given to your claims that Georges was cheating?
Penn: I think that everything happens for a reason in life. And I got my butt kicked. Maybe I was saying some things I shouldn't have been saying, so I got my butt kicked. With that said, everything happens for a reason. That's why GSP has cheating tagged onto him. Everything is how it should be, life is perfect, life is always how it should be. Maybe I said some things that I shouldn't have said, I got my butt kicked for that. And he has cheating attached to his name. That's just exactly how life should be, exactly what happened I guess.
Here's B.J. in the new UFC game.
BJ on fatherhood and a maturing career...
IGN: You've been a father now for just over a year. How has that changed you personally and as a fighter?
Penn: It's cool hanging out with my daughter and stuff. I don't really think it changed me as a fighter much, I'm just happy to come home and see my daughter. I separate my family life from fighting. I'm a human being first, so fighting is something I love to do and also the profession that I'm in, but I don't see no relation. Maybe a lot of people they got their daughter or son, and they're like, "This is why I fight now," or whatever. And definitely I want to do things in my life to make her proud. She's there, and it's awesome.
IGN: Does being a father maybe make you think more about the future of your career? Going into the second fight with Georges St-Pierre, it seemed like you were talking like you were ready to wind down your career. Like if you'd won that fight, it could've been your last fight. Lately though, you don't seem to show any signs of slowing down.
Penn: I think people always want to get to that position. I don't think I definitely would've walked away, but it would've been nice to be in a position where I could've, even though I would've never. There's no way I would've walked away, what else am I gonna do? Having a kid is great, but I probably wouldn't have walked away. In fact, I'm sure I wouldn't have. I would've probably felt like I wanted to a little, and then come back.
IGN: How much further do you see your career going?
Penn: I dunno, you start losing and you might wanna call it quits there. But as long as I keep winning I'll keep fighting.
BJ on competing in other weight classes...
IGN: Everyone seems to think you want to move back from the lightweight division to welterweight.
Penn: Yeah, I think there is a possibility of that. I don't in no way want to look past Frankie Edgar, he's a good fighter. You never know what could happen. But if I go back to welterweight, maybe I'll try to give it a run, maybe fight a couple of fights there, we'll see how it goes.
IGN: If you do move to welterweight, do think you'd still move back and forth between 155 and 170, or would it be a permanent move?
Penn: I might try to do it permanent. We'll see, I just don't want to rush anything, just take my time and go out there and do my best.
IGN: Does your strength and conditioning trainer Marv Marniovich have a strategy for getting you up in weight more healthily than you have in the past?
Penn: We haven't even talked about that.
IGN: How do you think you match up with the top welterweights right now, like Thiago Alves and Jon Fitch? They're pretty big guys.
Penn: I think I could do good against some of the top welterweights. Yeah, pretty big guys, but you gotta live some times, you gotta step up sometime, huh?
IGN: Does a rematch with Matt Hughes interest you?
Penn: Yeah. Yeah, you never know what could happen. Let's see how him and Renzo go, let's see what happens there.
IGN: On the topic of moving up in weight class, Georges St-Pierre has gotten a lot of pressure from fans and the media to step up and fight Anderson Silva. Would you take a fight with Anderson Silva to one-up Georges?
Penn: I would never take a fight with someone to one-up someone else. You know, you do things because you want to do them. In my personal opinion, if I was the welterweight champion would I already have put out the challenge to Anderson Silva? Yes I would have. But I'm the 155 pound champion, and if I'm going to put a challenge to another champion it should probably be the 170 pound champion.
IGN: Let's say you vacate the lightweight division, who's going to be the champ?
Penn: Any of those guys, I think they all can. Those guys are all so good, I wouldn't be surprised if any one of them--Florian, Maynard, Gomi's coming in, that's going to be interesting to see what he can do, you got Frankie in there too. You got a lot of guys. Hopefully I just keep my title on April 10th, huh? I can't worry about those guys.
Sweep the leg.
IGN: What'd you think of George Sotiropolous against Joe Stevenson?
Penn: I thought he did good, I thought he did very good.
IGN: What fighters outside of the UFC would you be interested in fighting?
Penn: There's a lot of good guys, but I'm not really gonna sit here and name names. I don't wanna disrespect Frankie Edgar, I gotta fight Frankie Edgar coming up. There's no sense to be saying all these people's names when I got a formidable opponent coming up in a couple months.
BJ on tsunamis and RVCA sponsorship...
IGN: I heard you on CNN talking about the tsunami threat in Hawaii following Chile's massive earthquake. How'd that happen?
Penn: Yeah, we couldn't believe it ourselves. We were over here, we were doing some blogs that the tsunami was gonna come in. Tsunamis are always big news around Hilo, grew up always getting ready to escape a tsunami. I probably went through at least eight tsunami warnings over here in Hilo growing up, but this one was pretty serious, pretty big. And my mom's house is where a lot of news used to come and film. I was just hanging out and putting it live on the website [BJPenn.com], and then my brother said, "Hey, you're on CNN right now! They're streaming it from this video," and then Joe Lauzon starts texting me, "You're on CNN!" Every time people were texting me, they kept cutting me off. People were trying to call me, so they switched me over to my brother's phone. It just happened.
IGN: You've gone through eight or so tsunami warnings growing up?
Penn: Eight or so warnings and probably hundreds of practice drills escaping out of the town. They'd ring the bell and everyone would run to the door, and then we'd walk up the road to a certain point, where they knew it was safe, the tidal wave wouldn't hit us. Like all the time when we were kids.
IGN: Growing up in California, we were always doing earthquake drills.
Penn: Yeah. (Laughing) Us too! Under the table, huh? Yeah, us too.
IGN: RVCA clothing was recently banned from sponsorships inside the UFC. You've always been related to RVCA, they've got you on their website. Has that decision been a problem for you?
Penn: No, RVCA are actually back with the UFC, and they're going to be back for my next fight. It's all good.
IGN: Anything else you wanna say? Anything about UFC Undisputed 2010?
Penn: Penn: I know it's gonna be an awesome game. Oh, and don't forget to go to BJPenn.com.