While most were wondering if the sleeve BJ Penn was wearing on his left knee was the reason he seemed out of sorts on Saturday at UFC 112, apparently it was an internal health issue that caused the former champ to be off his game.
Although Penn’s longtime coach, Rudy Valentino, didn’t want to diminish Frankie Egar’s spectacular accomplishment, he did mention to CagePotato.com that his client wasn’t at his best inside the Concert Arena.
“He was also battling a sinus infection and was on antibiotics, so he was not one hundred percent. I’m not making any excuses, that is just what happened,” Valentino told the website. “I don’t want this to be about criticizing Frankie because I like him and he fought well.”
Penn and Edgar battled for 25 grueling minutes in some of the most difficult rounds to score in mixed martial arts history. One extra jab here or a flurry there could have meant the difference between leaving Abu Dhabi with UFC gold or not.
“Going into the 5thRound, I told BJ that he had to win this round to win the fight. But sometimes things don’t go the right way,” Valentino added. “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 … When he gets sick, some people recover quickly but it took awhile, a couple weeks to recover. He wasn’t able to train for a couple weeks so that makes it tougher. But people react differently to that type of stuff.”
Penn may not have had his mojo this weekend, and the Jersey boy gladly took advantage, shocking the MMA world by posting a 50-45, 48-47, 49-46 unanimous decision victory en route to capturing the lightweight crown.
“When we got back into the locker room, BJ said ‘Sorry guys.’ He did the best he could after being sick and all of that,” Valentino stated of the somber atmosphere. “He said, ‘I did the best I could. I couldn’t get things off and going. I wanted to do something and couldn’t get it to come out.’
“He apologized to us but I told him ‘Hey, just got to go back to the camp start training and get going.’ Everything happens for a reason and maybe this reason is next time we get sick don’t fight (laughs).
“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.”