BJ Penn Prepares for his Upcoming Fight with Jon Fitch at UFC 127
By Lisa Teichner
Stan Rosario is the Producer and Senior Editor of BJ Penn.com and Prodigy Productions. He has been in all of BJ’s training camps since 2004, documenting them along the way, including the camp that is getting BJ ready for Jon Fitch. Rosario did not go on the trip down under for UFC 127 this weekend because he is staying in Hilo to work on Prodigy Productions’ new MMA TV pilot called ‘So You Think You Can Fight?’ We’ll tell you more about this incredibly exciting show later. But first, we got a chance to catch up with Rosario and talk about BJ’s preparation for his upcoming fight with Fitch.
Maui Now: How is BJ feeling about the fight?
Rosario: “BJ looks great, he’s tough. He’s been training hard. Every camp is crazy; people don’t realize how crazy training camps are. I feel he’s ready, he looks good.”
Maui Now: Talk about Matt Hughes coming to train with BJ on Oahu. How do you think that was helpful in preparing for Fitch?
Rosario: “Fitch is a Matt Hughes in his prime. Hughes is way more technically advanced but Jon Fitch is a beast. He’s kind of like a Viking dude. Fitch is tough. Matt helped. He told BJ that when he controls the center of the Octagon, he can’t be beat.”
Hughes said that his plan in his fight with BJ was to push him against the fence, take him down and wear him out because he can’t stand there in the center of the Octagon with him. “Matt is a great guy. He pushed BJ hard.” Rosario said it was a “cool moment” to see Matt and BJ bag what happened in the past and train together.
Rosario said “Fitch can’t really strike with BJ. As long as BJ’s keeps his back off the fence he should stay out of trouble. I don’t really see a ground & pound for Fitch. And he can’t pass BJ’s guard.”
Maui Now: Did BJ Train on Oahu to be away from distractions?
Rosario: “He’s still home (on Oahu), not miserable in a California warehouse. He can fly back home for a weekend to see his girlfriend and daughter. His fighting career is important but family is the most important thing. We built a private gym for BJ to train. A lot of other Hawaii fighters helped to train & support BJ as well. Niko, the Wolff brothers. Justin Mc Cully is a great coach; Troy (Mandoloniz) is an excellent coach as well.”
Rosario said that Pat Healy and Olympic wrestler Jake Clark also came over to train. Healy just last week beat the previously undefeated Lyle “Fancy Pants” Beerbohm in Strikeforce Challengers 14. It sounds like BJ’s camp has chosen his training partners wisely in preparation for facing the strong wrestler, Jon Fitch.
Maui Now: Obviously conditioning is a big question. I know BJ had Troy Mandoloniz working with him for the last fight against Hughes and he was in good shape. Last time we were in Hilo at Penn Training and Fitness it was about one week after BJ’s last win over Hughes. He was already back in the gym training hard, doing a lot of cardio. We saw some of how Troy was coaching him and he seemed incredibly focused and disciplined. How do you think having Troy on his team and in his corner has helped BJ?
Rosario: “BJ’s old striking coach was Jason Parillo, who is a good boxing coach. Troy is more of a MMA coach. Troy is in there with BJ mentally and he’s a great mitt man.”
Maui Now: Why isn’t BJ more active from his back on the ground, going for submissions?
Rosario recounted BJ’s past fights explaining that BJ does have an active guard (when he does end up on his back), he goes for submissions and does not let anyone pass his guard, with very little exception. BJ had torn the tissue in his ribs going for a triangle at the end of the second round in the second fight against Matt Hughes. I don’t think Matt would’ve passed his guard if it weren’t for his injury. That fight was an exception. In UFC 35 BJ tapped (Jens) Pulver with an armbar at the end of the second round just as the bell rang and let him out of an armbar and triangle in their second bout. The first St. Pierre fight BJ controlled Georges in his guard and almost got the Gogo-plata at the end of the 3rd round. Referring to this Penn/St. Pierre fight Rosario says we’ve all heard the controversy from that decision.“Unfortunately the judging is more like ultimate wrestling and not MMA. Strikes and submission attempts should be the only thing being judged in MMA along with aggression and cage control. What good is a takedown or passing guard if you don’t do anything after that? If the bottom guy thwarts those attacks then that battle should be considered a draw. Guys go for takedowns and hold guys on the ground. And they win. That’s not fighting.”
Maui Now: In the UFC 127 pre-fight interview BJ says he took the fight because he knows Fitch is a good fighter and wants to see how good he is, he wants him to prove it. What do you think makes Jon Fitch a good opponent for BJ and how do you think the fight will go?
Rosario: “I don’t think BJ wants to turn it into a wrestling match. I think he’ll finish it as soon as possible. He’s in shape and can go the distance. People complain about him finishing fights early because they’re like ‘I paid my $49 to watch a fight’. BJ does read his fans emails. BJ’s fans are the gnarliest and best fans but sometimes they can be hard on him. Hawaii is like its own nation and there is a lot of pressure sometimes.”
About Rosario, Prodigy Productions and their Newest Endeavor: So You Think You Can Fight?
Stan Rosario started bjpenn.com’s media program with BJ, Reagan (Penn) and Clayton Uyehara after BJ was on The Ultimate Fighter because they felt they could build the best MMA website with more content than TUF. The new television pilot ‘So You Think You Can Fight?’ was also born from a desire to produce a quality MMA show similar to The Ultimate Fighter but with more training, fighting and positivity rather than all of the BS and negativity that comes from locking fighters up together in a house in the middle of the desert. “It’s like The Ultimate Fighter, with more positive stuff, not negativity”. Rosario feels “That’s entertainment but it’s not really my thing”. So you Think You Can Fight will allow fighters nationally and eventually internationally the opportunity to promote themselves, upload blogs and win a trip to Hilo, train at BJ Penn’s MMA Academy and fight in the locally produced Just Scrap events.
We asked if Prodigy Productions will also travel to outer islands and work with other promoters like X-1 for example, to film this show and help to further the sport of MMA across Hawaii. This seems to be one of their missions. They see the future for MMA in Hawaii and will be a large contributor to creating this future. Rosario said “In 2011 we want to cover more ground. I talked to Mike (Miller) from X-1 about the possibility of building online shows for their events as well.”
The more events we have, the more opportunities for fighters to showcase their talents and gain invaluable experience.
We asked Rosario if he would also come to Maui and work with us since we continue to struggle to get our own consistent MMA shows running.
“I love Maui. I could use a vacation soon.”
Stay tuned to Maui Now for the results of UFC 127, more information on the upcoming TV pilot ‘So You Think You Can Fight?’ and as we continue to follow the career of one of Hawaii’s most beloved Champions, BJ “The Prodigy” Penn.
UFC 127 Fight Card – Saturday, Feb. 26, 5pm HST
BJ PENN vs JON FITCH
MICHAEL BISBING vs JORGE RIVERA
GEORGE SOTIROPOULOUS vs DENNIS SIVER
CHRIS LYTLE vs BRIAN EBERSOLE
KYLE NOKE vs CHRIS CAMOZZI
ROSS PEARSON vs SPENCER FISHER
JAMES TE HUNA vs ALEXANDER GUSTAFSSON
NICK RING vs RIKI FUKUDA
ANTHONY PEROSH vs TOM BLACKLEDGE
TIEQUAN ZHANG vs JASON REINHARDT
MARK HUNT vs CHRIS TUCHSCHERER
MACIEJ JEWTUSZKO vs CURT WARBURTON