December 11, 2009
You don't ever want to be the coulda, woulda, shoulda guy. That's exactly where B.J. Penn was headed if he didn't straighten out his conditioning and maturity. He was dubbed "The Prodigy" back in the early 2000's but then let money and squabbles cloud his judgement. A dynamo down at 155 pounds, he allowed himself to balloon up in the 185 range. Even at 170, he was a good fighter but never in the condition to beat a top notch Georges St. Pierre or Matt Hughes. Penn isn't an old guy at 30-years-old but 2009 appears to be the year that he's turned the corner with his maturity and approach to his career.
The trash talking and warring with other fighters is gone. The laziness between fights has also gone bye-bye. Penn's Dalai Lama of conditioning is a 70-year-old who was thought to be a kook and has been, Marv Marinovich. Marinovich had made something click in Penn. His outlook on training has completely changed and gone is most of the drama that used to constantly surround the Penn Camp.
Watch Cofield's one-on-one with UFC president Dana White (NSFW), breaking down Penn-Diego Sanchez and Frank Mir-Cheick Kongo.
Penn said he was pretty much forced to meet with Marinovich, 70, after the loss to GSP at UFC 94. J.D. his brother/manager, was searching for something. B.J. said he just wanted to go home. Keep in mind there were some rumors that Penn may take a long time off or even retire. That all changed when Penn got to speak with Marinovich and actually tried some of his training methods:
"We did it for a week and I just realized this guy is the best ever," Penn told Cagewriter.
The best ever? Wasn't this the guy who ruined his son, Todd, mentally and was on the outside looking in when it came to elite strength and condiditioning trainers?
"I think everyone talks about Marv being a joke because he's not doing what everyone else is doing. All that stuff that's the fad right now, he's doesn't do that stuff. That's why everybody looks down on him, 'oh he doesn't know what he's doing.'"
Penn claims most trainers are actually breaking down their fighters physically and making them worse right before the fight. The most important thing Marinovich is doing for Penn is on the mental side. Penn has had to hear about his lack of conditioning before most of his fights.
"I bought into it. Whether it works or not, it gives me a level of confidence that helps this out [pointing to his head]."
Penn looks like he's in his best condition since his early 20's. He'll need it at UFC 107 against Diego Sanchez, who may be one of the top cardio guys in the sport.
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