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BJ Penn Walks Into UFC 123 With New Cornermen

BJ “The Prodigy” Penn has long been a fighter known more for his talent than his work ethic. Whether the ideas many hold about Penn in that regard are true is unimportant; what currently matters is the fact that Penn has lost two in a row and because of that has been forced to reevaluate his approach to training and fighting.

Penn often holds training camps with a core group of coaches and training partners (some members of his family) in his hometown of Hilo, Hawaii. Many have speculated that “The Prodigy” would benefit from exposing himself to different training methods with different coaches and training partners. Showing that the same thought has crossed his mind, Penn (who has kept many of the details concerning his training camp under wraps) has replaced his normal cornermen for this fight, choosing to have Troy Mandaloniz and Justin McCully take the place of longtime staples Jason Perillo and Rudy Valentino.

Speaking with’s Ariel Helwani recently, Penn revealed the reason for the switch.

“We’re just trying to get a different look. Just going with some different ideas,” Penn explained. “We all still train together. I’ve actually trained with both [Valentino and Perillo] while preparing for the fight. But up here, as far as the corner goes, we’ve got different ideas, we’ve got a different game plan. Our last two fights didn’t go the way we wanted and we’re all in agreement that we want to put something together and get a victory.”

Penn’s fellow Hawaiian Troy Mandaloniz was a contestant on the sixth season of The Ultimate Fighter and frequently referees MMA events. He fought twice for the UFC, going 1-1 against Richie Hightower (win-TKO) and Paul Kelly (loss-unanimous decision).

Justin “The Insane One” McCully holds a UFC record of 2-2, balancing losses to Gabriel Gonzaga and Mike Russow with wins over Eddie Sanchez and Antoni Hardonk. He last appeared in action at UFC 102 against Russow.

How do you think Penn’s corner change will affect his performance? Will it affect him at all?