A few years back I had a wonderful opportunity to spend time working in the South Pacific islands, mostly Hawaii. Let me tell you, it is hard to work when you have all that beauty around you. The people are wonderful and there is a great laid back attitude. Once again, not conducive for getting work done.
So, we come to the first subject of this article; BJ Penn. Rarely have we seen a fighter with so much natural ability. When Penn is at his best we get to see the art in martial arts. Success came easily to BJ Penn in the lightweight division. There has been much written about his mixed results in title fights, so I won't venture into that territory. What I will venture into is his preparation between fights with Frankie Edgar.
Edgar won a controversial victory in their first fight. He frustrated Penn with his style and as a result Penn lost his LW title. Soon after the rematch was booked. Penn had approximately four months to look at how Edgar was successful against him and how to course correct. You would think Penn would have joined up with a top wrestling team to improve his wrestling skills. Instead, we saw Penn take a more lax approach and the results were painful for Penn. This time Edgar dominated Penn leaving his legacy in jeopardy. Penn could have done much more to prepare. He chose not to. The "hang loose" attitude prevailed.
Now, let's look at Mark Hunt. He is also of Pacific Island descent but at a young age moved to some of the meaner streets in South Auckland, New Zealand. Hunt fell into fighting with his incredible knock out power. Hunt speaks of his career now as a wasted opportunity and looking back, it certainly was. Few fighters have the power Hunt has but he never developed the other parts of his game to take his career to the next level. He was happy to put on the pounds and take his chances, whether it was in K-1 or MMA. Now, as a result of contractual obligations that lingered from the Zuffa acquisition of Pride, Mark Hunt has a second chance on the big stage. He will face the mammoth uber-prospect Sean McCorkle. Hunt in the past would simply show up out of shape and take his shot. But, not this time. He is working, and he is working hard with one of the best teams in MMA today. As a result it looks like he has trimmed off practically the equivalent of a Jose Aldo in weight. He is building a ground game, which was always a weakness. To put it simply, he is not "hanging loose".
Who knows how Hunt will fare in this bout. I am rooting hard for him. Here is a man with a fraction of Penn's skill doing everything he can to make the most of his last chance. Hunt is doing it the right way by training with some of the best. BJ Penn should take notice, leave the beautiful sunsets of Hawaii in his rear view mirror and get himself to the mainland to train with a top team. He has the opportunity today, hopefully it doesn't turn into a wasted one. Time is ticking.
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