BJ Penn’s coach Rudy Valentino wants you to know a few things: first off, BJ Penn didn’t lose that fight. Second: he had a sinus infection and a fever beforehand and that’s why he lost. Not that he actually lost though. And by the way, this isn’t an excuse.
I was going to paste the dictionary definition of ‘excuse’ here and end it like that, but that’d be a bit heavy handed and you know I’m all about being subtle and shit. So how about I just share the quote from Rudy and let you decide:
Going into the 5th round I told BJ that he had to win this round to win the fight. But sometimes things don’t go the right way. Being on antibiotics and struggling to get better from being sick and having a fever over the course of two weeks, these were some of the factors that slowed him down. That wasn’t the BJ Penn that we had in camp for three months going through sparring partners the way he did. We never took Frankie Edgar like he wasn’t a world contender. We took him very serious. We knew he could do damage to BJ in stand up and with takedowns. We were working BJ Penn wasn’t 100 percent, what you saw in the fight was him battling being sick. He didn’t want to call Dana three weeks before the fight and cancel because he was sick. BJ being the champion that he is just went in there and fought.
BJ’s camp is pushing for an immediate rematch (in Hawaii no less) and according to some, that might be what happens. Personally, I think that’s bullshit. Frankie Edgar was a massive underdog who managed to pull off the upset and win the title from BJ Penn. But what exactly is the point if as soon as you edge out the unstoppable p4p contender, you have to face him again immediately after? It’s like BJ Penn is getting a do-over, and in his home town too? I thought it was bullshit when that happened to Matt Serra (but injuries kinda forced it), and if it happens with BJ Penn it will just confirm the idea that pulling off the huge upset doesn’t mean shit unless you can do it twice in a row.
To me, the way forward seems pretty obvious: Gray Maynard gets his shot at Frankie Edgar’s belt. BJ Penn fights the winner after beating someone else at lightweight. But an immediate rematch? Was it the sinus infection that kept BJ Penn from trying to take Edgar down? Did the pre-fight sickness keep him from fighting five rounds? He had a shit performance, and past that the reasons behind it don’t really matter. Everyone piles on Tito Ortiz for giving excuses in the Octagon but the only difference here is that BJ does it after the fight is over. As Forrest Griffin said, everyone comes into a fight banged up and less than 100%. The second you step into the cage, you lose the right to challenge a person’s win based on your own problems.