Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn has taken criticism in the past for not branching out enough during his training camps; some have speculated that — much like Fedor Emelianenko — “The Prodigy” would benefit by traveling to the mainland more often to expose himself to different camps and training methods.
Turns out it hasn’t just been out of stubbornness that the Hawaiian native often avoids expanding his camp — he spoke with MMAFighting.com’s Ariel Helwani during an appearance on The MMA Hour and revealed that it is exactly for situations like the current Jon Jones – Rashad Evans pickle that he has remained hesitant to open up his training camp.
“I think teammates have to fight each other, and I knew that the whole time,” Penn said. “That’s why I would always distance myself. Of course they have to. I always thought it was B.S. that [Josh] Koscheck and [Jon] Fitch wouldn’t have to fight, but they can just keep taking turns going for title shots, but they never had to fight each other? That doesn’t make sense.
“You know why I never went to any of these places and trained? Because it’s the same thing that you see with guys like Rashad Evans and Jon Jones,” he added. “Now there’s a big problem because of that. That’s why I always kept my distance from anyone. I had a thousand chances to go train with Jon Fitch, but I knew I’m probably going to fight this guy one day, so let’s be friends when we’re done fighting.”
Penn last appeared in action fighting Jon Fitch to a draw at UFC 127 this past February. The two were scheduled for a rematch but were both forced to pull out in order to rehab shoulder injuries.