UFC Primetime tried to insert what the BJ Penn camp unequivocally calls a non-issue. That is, there is a storyline being pursued that suggests Penn is taking a vacation in the middle of his training camp thereby somehow indicating Penn isn't taking the fight seriously or won't be properly prepared. Penn's head trainer, Rudy Valentino, says it's all rubbish. To wit:
“Dana White was making a big deal out of nothing,” Valentino tells InsideFighting.
“He makes it out to be that [BJ] is on vacation, not training and not taking [the fight] seriously. This fight is the most serious fight of all time. We’re not playing around…We’ve got a good training camp here,” Valentino assures. “I saw that and I laughed because we know what we are doing.”
Valentino says that he has never heard of White calling to check up on one of Penn’s previous training camps and suspects that it was done this time around in order to generate additional drama for the Prime Time show. “[Dana] will pull out drama in anything he does. He’s not a drama queen, he’s a drama king,” Valentino says.
Valentino says that Penn’s scheduled rest time occurred last week “Tuesday through Saturday,”* after Penn had already been training for three consecutive months. Without that time off Penn would have been on schedule to walk into UFC 94 after an approximately five month training camp without pause - entirely too long by anyone’s standards.
“[Dana] didn’t understand what we have to do. Dana doesn’t understand because he’s not a fighter. We don’t want [BJ] burning out or peaking at the wrong time,” Valentino says, also noting that Penn has employed a similar rest period before his last six to seven fights.
“It’s not a vacation,” he says. “Its just a rest period to recuperate the body and get more focused on the fight.”
I'm aware of several other fighters with long training camps will often take very brief sabbaticals like this for whatever reasons they feel are important. I don't think time off works for every fighter, but certainly helps some. If it's true that BJ has been training for this many months then a few days off is of zero significance and probably beneficial by any reasonable standard.
For my tastes, I'd like to see deeper looks into the fighters themselves, their rivalry, their similarities, their differences and their first fight than any manufactured storyline. The UFC is spending too much money on this series to be
manufacturing stories out of whole cloth promoting non-issues.