BJ Penn has been a professional mixed martial artist for nearly a decade. Yet at the tender age of 31, the same question continues to haunt the future Hall of Famer as he enters perhaps the final chapter of his illustrious career.
We’ve heard for all the livelong day that world-class cardio was the only thing holding the Hawaiian back from retiring as the sport’s G.O.A.T. Rewind to his last two scraps and it can be argued he’s dropped 10 consecutive championship rounds to the reigning lightweight king.
“I tried some stuff in the Frankie Edgar fight. I didn’t defend the takedowns as hard as I wanted to because I wanted to try a couple sweeps, but I didn’t have the conditioning,” Penn admitted in an interview with Joe Rogan (Transcribed by CagePotato). “[It’s] always a wake-up call when you lose because you know you’re going to alter something in your training. Something has to change in the training.
“You gotta find what works for you. That’s what I believe. I believe once I do [find what works best for me] I’ll be able to hit that peak. We’re just getting started.”
If Penn is only now planning to kick things off, a 15-7-1 record to go along with a couple world titles is a decent beginning point. On the flipside, after 23 pro fights, “The Prodigy” still can’t seem to figure out the cardio quiz. Thankfully, he’s already taken his next test twice before – albeit to mixed results.
The former multi-divisional title holder has a chance to break his tie with Matt Hughes at UFC 123. While most have already dumped dirt on the former welterweight champ’s MMA career, Penn has been impressed with the wrestler’s recent resurgence.
“I think Matt looked good in his last three fights,” he said of Hughes’ current winning streak. “[Ricardo] Almeida came in [and] he thought he was gonna do something at 170 and Matt took him out. Anything Matt Hughes does doesn’t surprise me.”
The 37-year-old should prove to be a tough challenge for Penn, as conditioning has always been one of Hughes’ strong points. Their third welterweight tango goes down tonight inside The Palace of Auburn Hills in Detroit, Michigan.