B.J. Penn goes back and forth with the UFC over a complaint about being "forced" to trash talk Nick Diaz. Photos by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty Images
On Tuesday, BJPenn.com released a video blog interview of their titular fighter with the subtitle "Why are UFC interviewer's [sic] telling me what to say about Nick Diaz?" In it, B.J. Penn discusses having to film another round of interviews for the UFC Countdown show given the matchup switcheroo at the top of the card.
"One thing that was a trip about that whole thing," Penn said, "was that I gotta lot of respect for Diaz, I trained with him before that whole thing. And they forced me to say at the of the whole thing, they forced me to say-- You gotta say Nick Diaz's name now. You gotta say his name. ... They're like, 'Say you're gonna beat Nick Diaz. Say you're gonna beat Nick Diaz.'"
UFC President Dana White took umbrage with Penn's comments and released footage of an interview with Penn to the Underground (video embed after the jump). The footage is touted as "raw and uncut," yet the clip is a mere two minute segment of what is presumably a much longer interview.
Penn's camp responded with a clip of their own (also embedded below). This clip depicts a different interview than the clip provided by the UFC. (Penn wears a tank top in the UFC's clip. He sports a black RVCA t-shirt here.)
The clip begins with an unnamed (and presumed) UFC media employee imploring Penn to "hype the fight." Penn, laughing, rhetorically asks, "Who's the best at hyping a fight?" This prompts the UFC man to goad Penn into saying he'll "beat the s*** out of him [Diaz]" and then "kill Anderson [Silva]" right after. The interview appears to resume normally from there.
BJPenn.com released this statement with the video:
If you watch it, it will show the UFC interviewer specifically instigating trash talking from BJ. While BJ's recent recount may not have been 100% accurate based on what the video released allowed you to see, our video shows them asking for specific items from BJ in hopes to hype the fight.
So forgive us for a slightly innacurate recount of events, but as you can see, we are used to the UFC making requests that instigate a fighter to say things he would not normally say and for that reason BJ is somewhat sensetive to these types of baited interviews now.
This all seems much ado about nothing. Penn's clip certainly shows the interviewer trying to manipulate Penn into phrasing things a certain way, awkwardly might I add, but...that's sort of the job of the promoter, is it not?
The UFC did itself no favors by releasing a two-minute clip and touting it as "raw and uncut," either. They can't prove something didn't happen, unless they are able to produce footage of the entire encounter from the moment Penn steps in the room until he leaves. Some sort of written statement, and probably one that reconciles with the realities of being a promoter, would have sufficed just as well.
Editor's note by Brent Brookhouse: The video released by Penn's people was from the Kenny Florian fight as an attempt to show that the UFC does attempt to get certain soundbytes from its fighters in these interviews.
The UFC response: