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UFC 80 – Penn vs Stevenson

January 22, 2008

I don’t normally comment or review sport events. I believe there are people far more qualified (they’re the ones writing for Sherdog and MSN Fox sports – when did MSN Fox sports get an mma section?) and much more entertaining than myself (just about everyone else with a MMA/BJJ blog, some good reads out there, will post links later) however in this particular case I’ll make an exception.

Why? Kinda obvious when you think about it. BJ Penn’s from Hawaii. I’m from Hawaii. BJ’s jiu jitsu is world class level. My jiu jitsu is “still need to go to take a class” level. Gotta show support.

Anyhow, I was surprised to see that BJ looked much more fit than he did with his fight with Jans Pulver. He lost his ab. And I broke out laughing when BJ addressed it in his post-fight interview.

I also was very surprised at the extremely warm welcome the Newcastle crowd gave BJ. I’m sure there was a group of people from Hawaii in attendance, but definitely nowhere near the size that cheered for BJ. BJ’s big in Hawaii, but not 2007 University of Hawaii Warriors big. This year the U.H. Warriors headed into the Sugar Bowl undefeated and at the Sugar Bowl there clearly was a Hawaii presence supporting the Warriors. I doubt BJ had that size of a hometown cheering section at Newcastle.

Anyway, I have a theory as to BJ’s large fan base in England. It comes down to one thing. Not BJ’s skills on the ground. (And mad skills he got!) Not his “baby face”. (If you think I’m teasing BJ I’m not. That’s what the “B” in BJ stands for, “baby”.) And not because BJ is such an articulate fighter (Now I’m teasing him. Man, BJs post fight interviews… granted it’s difficult to be comprehensible after a physically taxing activity, worse if it was a violent one like any combat sport. But still… You can take the local boy out of Hawaii… ).

None of the above. The reason I suspect is due to the Hawaiian flag.

Look closely. The Hawaiian flag proudly sports the union jack even though Hawaii was never a part of the British Empire unlike Hong Kong or Australia for example (would have been cool to speak with a proper accent). See, when the Hawaiian monarchy was established it was modeled after the English monarchy. King Kamehameha I designed the flag and gave tribute to the Empire by placing the union jack within it. And that concludes today’s history lesson.

I could be wrong and everyone in the UK absurdly loves BJ.

I was surprised to see Tony Mandaloniz (of Ultimate Fighter 6 fame) in BJ’s locker room. Not really. They’re friends. And if you know someone in MMA/BJJ in Hawaii, chances are they’re friends with somebody like a BJ Penn, Enson Inoue, Kendall Grove, Baret Yoshida. Small place Hawaii. I’m one or two friends away from all of these guys.

As for the fight itself, I wasn’t surprised at the outcome. BJ Penn with a win over Joe Stevenson. Was there any doubt? Go watch it, I only spoiled the outcome but not the fight. The fight was nice. I’m gonna watch it again when I get home.

Now, onto the match waiting in the wings. Penn vs Sherk. I feel sorry for Sean Sherk. The whole steroids issue is complicated and messy, if not underhandedly dirty. And perhaps that’s why the crowd booed Sean when he entered the octagon to address BJ’s remarks after the fight. Regardless, now that BJ is the current Lightweight champion and Sean the former champion (Got it stripped from him after the steroid incident. Moral of the story… know exactly what you’re putting in your body!) they’ll meet to see who’s the real lightweight champion.

I am going on record now to say that BJ will win this within the first two rounds of the match. Sean Sherk maybe the “muscle shark” but on the ground it’s Penn who is the predator.

However IF BJ cannot finish the fight within the first or second round, the champion title will – sadly – return to Sherk’s hands. Not backsliding on who I think will win. More of a precaution for the Prodigy.


Keep on training.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Christina Fraquelli permalink
    April 26, 2008 12:42 am

    Hi there,

    Actually the crowd was definitely for BJ Penn. That UFC sold out in moments because of BJ Penn. MMA and BJJ in particular, are huge in the UK! I was there! It was an awesome fight and everyone was screaming for him as he was the star of the event!

  2. April 26, 2008 7:58 pm

    Hi Christina,

    Yeah, the UK has a lot of fight lovers and great fighters too! Figure they’d love BJ because of his talent rather than where he was from. 😉 Heh heh.

    That’s awesome you were there. I’ll probably never be able to see an event of that caliber… the only thing is a K-1 show coming to Fukuoka next month, but that’s it. That or sumo.

    Take care and keep training.


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