Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion B.J. Penn spoke to Ron Kruck on Inside MMA this week, and the interview covered some interesting topics. Kruck was in Corona, CA to cover the opening of the new UFC Gym as a part of his Inside America's Gyms segments, and BJ gives his opinions on the facility and discusses his own upcoming branch in Honolulu. He also talks about his role as a pioneer in the UFC, and fellow legend Randy Couture's retirement. This leads Kruck to ask BJ about the subject of his own retirement (transcribed by Zach Arnold of FightOpinion):
RK: "When you look at Randy Couture, BJ… do you, is that something that, when you finally decide to hang it up, that you would like to go out the way that he did? Because a lot of times, in any sport, athletes really don’t get to pick, OK, I’m ready to go out and go out on their own terms. Do you think he retired the right way and in a way that you would like to finally retire one day?"
BJ: "You know what? A lot of other fighters out there, they probably would have went and picked a fight that they would have known that they would have won and leave on a high note. But, that’s Randy, that’s the only way he would have gone out, like that and I probably would kind of think for myself the same. If Randy would have won, he would be fighting for the title. He wouldn’t have left, you know… We lost so many times over the years, you know, we all know that’s not the first time Randy got knocked but that’s probably what it’s going to, probably going to take a knockout or a bad beating to make someone like Randy or someone like me or a couple other fighters that I know in the UFC say, OK, you know, I can take it, I’ll walk away now.’
RK: "Personally, how long would you like to keep fighting?"
BJ: "You know when I was in my 20s I said I’ll fight until 40 and this and that… and I don’t know, everything’s just a blessing now. As long as I keep winning fighting and fans want to see me fight (and) I’m not hurt, I’ll fight as long as I can. I’d love to fight until 40, I don’t know if it’s a reality but I’d love to."
The next topic was his UFC 127 draw with Jon Fitch, and how disappointing it was to him. He was going to go through with the rematch (at UFC 132) despite an injured shoulder, since he knew Fitch had a bum shoulder as well. He wanted to see how he'd feel three months out of the fight but Fitch pulled out right before that, so he figured it was time to address the injury:
RK: "You don’t need any surgery or anything like that?"
BJ: "You know, I got to take another MRI with the contrast and everything but every time it starts feeling better then I don’t want to take that thing because I don’t want to have surgery, you know, but I better go out and I got to just, for my own peace of mind, I gotta go do that MRI contrast, I’ve been putting it off too long and the only reason why I’m putting it off is because I want to fight, I don’t want to have surgery. I just want to wake up one day and be like, oh, that thing’s great, right on, Dana, let’s go. You know?"
He also talks about what he wants to do in the UFC before he retires:
RK: "You’ve been in the Octagon with the sport’s best, the top of the top. You don’t have to call any one out or anything like that, but is there a fight that interests you before you retire? Maybe, you know, a rematch with someone or somebody new, maybe an up-and-comer?"
BJ: "You know what? People might think it’s a long shot from this point out, but I really would like to be the world champ again at 170 pounds, you know, and I try to hold out as long as I can and when I get knocked off, because everyone’s going to get knocked off, I’d love to go back to 155 and win one more time. If I could do that, I can go to sleep at night. It would be much easier, you know, I don’t know any specific names or whoever the champion is at that time, you know. … I really want to be world champ again. You know, I was watching Soul Surfer movie the other day, the girl (Bethany Hamilton) who lost her arm… and if she can go out and keep surfing professionally, I can go get another world title."
There doesn't appear to be a time frame for BJ's return to the cage due to the questions regarding his shoulder, but it seems plausible that he will rematch Jon Fitch whenever both of them are back to 100%. Until then, BJ will work on preparations for the UFC Gym he's helping to create that will open next January in Honolulu.
You can watch the full interview video after the jump.