BEHIND THE SCENES MMA ARTICLES & INTERVIEWS
Motivating The Prodigy
By Christopher ‘sLapDatSuCKa’ Jester
Motivation is the key ingredient for BJ Penn. Without the right amount of motivation, BJ Penn can become distracted and preoccupied mentally in the Octagon. While, he can live up to his nickname “The Prodigy” it has been some time since UFC fans have seen the 33-year old put on an eye-opening performance.
It goes without saying that BJ Penn is a talented fighter who brings a warrior spirit inside the Octagon. Throughout his UFC career, Penn has appeared like a hungry fiend who would rather kill his opponent than suffer any sort of loss. This was the type of motivation that made BJ Penn a legend within the Octagon. Despite his more recent losses, it would be shocking if Penn doesn’t become a future Hall of Famer.
So where did his decline begin? Likely somewhere between his loss to Georges St-Pierre for the second time at UFC 94 and his lightweight title loss to Frankie Edgar. While, his performances were still champion-worthy, it seemed grotesquely unlike the fights he had against Joe Stevenson or Sean Sherk. In those performances, BJ Penn literally decimated his opponents and left them images of their former selves. But in his two outings against Frankie Edgar, Penn seemed to lackadaisically play into Edgar’s footwork and speed. There was something not there. There was no motivation, no hunger. This was the beginning of a trend with Penn.
But then, right out of nowhere, it appeared as if the BJ Penn of old had returned. With a move up to Welterweight, BJ Penn took on Matt Hughes for the third time and blasted through him in less than 21 seconds. It seemed like an old feud with an old rival had been enough to get him interested again. But despite that, a fight with Jon Fitch ended in a draw and his next fight with former Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz placed Penn in a position where he wanted to retire. Bruised and battered, in the post-fight interview, Penn lamented that he would retire. He would later take back his retirement announcement and decided just to take time off.
A vacation away from the Octagon seemed to be a high reward until a young up and coming star in Rory MacDonald decided to call out BJ Penn for his lack of fighting spirit. Most of his retorts centered on Penn’s weight. Penn has been criticized for his weight when fighting at welterweight, and it was the perfect motivational tool to hear from a guy who wants to reach an elite level. BJ Penn appears to be truly motivated this time around. but his fans have heard this before.
Rory MacDonald brings into this fight the same youth and hunger that BJ Penn used to have. So what does this fight mean for BJ Penn? Likely his place as an upper-echelon fighter in the UFC. MacDonald is surely looking to knock Penn down and raise his own stock. Penn is nothing but a stepping stone for MacDonald. To remain relevant, Penn must defeat MacDonald.
There is a lot on line in Penn’s fight against Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox on December 8th. There will be a fall and there will be a rise of someone in this fight. Either MacDonald continues his streak and becomes a legitimate threat at welterweight, or he falls to BJ Penn who is looking to keep his stake of relevancy within the UFC. BJ Penn may no longer be in his prime, but he is still “The Prodigy”. With the right motivation and the hunger to fight, Penn can still be one of the deadliest fighters in the UFC.
Follow Christopher “sLapDatSuCKa” Jester on Twitter @sLapDatSuCka
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