"I think he's improved everywhere. You know, his experience, he's had some big wins and some big losses since then. His striking is better, his wrestling is better and his Jiu Jitsu is better. So all in all, he's just a better fighter than he was. But his most important muscle is his weakest and that's his heart. Once I get in through there and start breaking him down and he realizes that I'm not going away, that's how I'm going to end up beating him. He will end up giving up," stated UFC lightweight champion BJ Penn as he talked about his upcoming clash with UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. You don't want to miss what he had to say about St. Pierre, the fight and much more. Check it out!
PC: It is an extreme honor to speak with you my man. How is everything going in camp?
BP: Training is going great. I'm in the best shape I've ever been in mentally and physically. I'm ready to go out there and do this.
PC: Has it benefited you BJ that you've been training for 5-round fights for your last 4 or so fights?
BP: Oh, without a doubt. This is no big thing. I know this thing is getting hyped up a lot, but honestly, it's just another fight. I know they have the show and all of these other things around it, but I gotta go out and win, so whatever. I know the hype is there and you gotta promote a fight this big, but I'm just ready to win the fight.
PC: Tonight and every Wednesday leading up to the fight, they will show a build-up on Spike and take us into the camps of both of you guys. Is that one of the tough things for you, all of the promo work?
BP: Yeah, promo work definitely gets to you, but over the years, I'm used to it. Cameras in my house actually, the cameras push you to train kind of harder (laughing) so it helps me out in that sense.
PC: You've wanted this rematch for a long time. What is your mentality like now that it's less than 3 weeks away?
BP: I'm ready to go out there and dig deep and I know I'm going to do this. I'm really excited for the opportunity and I just can't wait.
PC: What part of St. Pierre's game do you feel like he has improved the most since the 1st fight between you two?
BP: I think he's improved everywhere. You know, his experience, he's had some big wins and some big losses since then. His striking is better, his wrestling is better and his Jiu Jitsu is better. So all in all, he's just a better fighter than he was. But his most important muscle is his weakest and that's his heart. Once I get in through there and start breaking him down and he realizes that I'm not going away, that's how I'm going to end up beating him. He will end up giving up.
PC: This will be your 1st fight at 170 in a couple of years. How are you feeling physically with putting the weight back on?
BP: I feel great man. I'm walking around at 171 right now. I want to make sure I don't drop too much weight. I'm just hanging on to 171 and that's what I walk around at anyways. When I step on the scale, that's what I'm going to be fighting at in the cage. I'm a 170-pounder, not a 187-pounder like Georges, but he's going to have to cut all of that weight and make weight and that's why I'm going to push longer and harder than he can throughout the fight.
PC: The last time you were so adamant about getting a rematch with someone was against Jens Pulver. You felt like you won both decisions and did not receive the nod. Which rematch would you say you wanted more, Pulver or St. Pierre?
BP: Yeah, probably both the same. I just think it's about timing, you know? At that time, I knew if I beat St. Pierre or Matt Hughes or whoever, that I was always going to have to go back and fight Jens Pulver one more time. At that time, that was the most important fight on my list, but as of right now, it's the St. Pierre fight.
PC: You are one of the most naturally gifted fighters I have seen step inside of the cage. Do you still feel like you're learning and that we still haven't seen the best BJ Penn yet?
BP: Oh definitely! I think you guys are going to see the best BJ Penn on January 31st. You always get better and you never stop learning; that's the key to mixed martial arts. It's just never-ending. Besides all of that, I just feel that this will be the best I will ever be on January 31st.
PC: A lot of fighters don't have the financial luxuries that you have so that's one of the reasons they train so hard and fight. What wakes you up in the mornings to run and train? Why keep putting your body through this?
BP: You know, that's what it is. I don't fight to live; I live to fight. It's just something in me. I love challenges, I love competition and I love fighting (laughing). You know what, I don't even know what wakes me up in the morning to do this shit. I just like to go out there and trade a couple punches, get hit a few and give a few and raise my hand after the whole thing is done. But I'm honestly looking at this fight like it's my last fight. I'm sure I'll fight again and I'm sure I will fight in the Octagon again, but mentally, you know, the training camps are getting longer. But no way am I getting burned out. I'm stoked for this fight, but I'm going to have to sit down with my family, coaches and trainers and see where I want to go after this because I'm definitely a fighter that goes off of motivation and accomplishments. So we'll see what happens after January 31st.
PC: That was one of my questions for you. In the past, you relied heavily on your natural ability and didn't always show up in the best condition. You've accomplished so much inside of the sport, does it take fights like this to get you motivated? Not to take anything away from Roger Huerta or Kenny Florian, but I just don't see you being motivated for a fight like that at this stage in your career.
BP: Oh yeah, without a doubt. This is the motivator. Like you said, not knocking Roger Huerta or any of these guys, but I've been with this company for 9 years now; almost 10 years so that's almost a decade that I've been in this thing at the top level. All of these other fighters been in this 2 years, 3 years, and they're hungry and they want to do all of these things. I've been there. I've been in their shoes, but I'm just in a different place in my life right now.
PC: In the first fight, most of his success came on the ground. His wrestling is much improved. What type of fight are you expecting from him this time around? Do you think he will go for an immediate takedown like he did in the Serra rematch?
BP: I can see him going for the immediate takedown because he wants to prove to himself that he can take me down to make himself feel comfortable I think. But I think he believes everybody's hype and his ego is so big right now that I think that he thinks he can beat me anyway. I think he thinks he can submit me or knock me out. He thinks he can do all of these things so he's getting away from the gameplan of this whole thing and that's just winning the fight. He's talking about finishing me in all of these interviews and this and that, but one thing I know for sure, and I don't know how I'm going to beat him, but I'm going to walk out of there with my hand raised.
PC: That last decision had you very bitter and I know you're not a fan of judges. Will Georges St. Pierre go 5 rounds with BJ Penn?
BP: Yeah, you know I'm not a judge guy. You know my answer on that. We don't need the judges so they don't even need to show up.
PC: Like I said, every Wednesday, they will give us some Penn-St. Pierre teaser on Spike, but you have a reality show in a sense going on at bjpenn.com. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
BP: We got the BJPENN.COM show, which is just a local state show right now. We're trying to branch it out a little. It's showing off local talent. We got the "Beatdown Challenge" and it's just a real fun local show with a more Hawaiian aspect; really local aspect. And it's just a really fun show. You have a lot of other shows out there that are this and that, but the BJPENN.COM Show is fun.
PC: You are one of the rare fighters that are really involved in the activity that goes on with your site. What made you become such an integral part of your site?
BP: I was just sitting there one day and I was looking at that thing. I was looking at the website and there wasn't very much on it. I was just looking at it and I was like, "Man, I wish I had my own show." Then I was like, "I wish I had my own television station or radio station." And as I'm looking at it, I'm like, "Right there man is a radio station and television station broadcasting around the world 24 hours a day; let's use it, it's gold!" In entrepreneurial spirit, we just started moving on it.
PC: Like I said, it was a true honor and pleasure to speak with you. Good luck on the 31st. Is there anything you want to say in closing; anybody you want to thank?
BP: I just want to thank all of the fans for supporting the sport. Whether they are a fan or a critic of mine, thank you for supporting MMA. It's the greatest sport in the world. Go check out bjpenn.com and thank you Percy!
[ Follow Percy Crawford on Twitter @MrFighthype ]