BJ Penn vs Kenny Florian: Will it Be Slick?
With UFC 101 quickly approaching some are wondering if BJ Penn will be able to defend his Lightweight Title against Kenny Florian. Penn and Florian are scheduled to go head to head in a battle for the belt in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on August 8, 2009. With the “Grease-gate” scandal still unresolved, this fight may escalate the controversy with the recent press that confirms Kenny Florian training under George St. Pierre.
Kenny Florian has been training for his bout against Penn at the Tri-Star Gym in Canada with George St. Pierre. In a recent interview with MMA Weekly Florian said “It wasn’t about going there and saying ‘GSP beat B.J. so I’m going to go there and try to do what GSP does.’ That’s ridiculous…With B.J. it’s difficult because he can do so many things well, so you can only draw certain aspects of certain fighters. Not everyone can do what B.J. can do.”
BJ Penn has been training in California with Marv Marinovich. According to his website, BJPenn.com, BJ has been trying some new training techniques conducted in swimming pools and maneuvers that focus on balance and inner core strength. Penn has changed camps for this fight and some critics are wondering if he will train harder without his “yes men” around. Penn will be fighting at 155, which according to his stats, he is more successful at this weight.
After BJ Penn’s horrific loss to the Welterweight Champion George St. Pierre at UFC 94, Penn and his camp filed an official complaint to the Nevada State Athletic Commission, accusing GSP and his corner, Phil Nurse, of intentionally lubricating St. Pierre and consequently altering the outcome of the fight while also putting Penn in Danger. Penn stated in his address to the NSAC that “I suffered a bad concussion in the fight and really don’t know what happened past the second [round].” Due to the injuries sustained Penn requested in his 20 page complaint that both St. Pierre and Nurse be fined 250,000 dollars and that neither should be allowed to participate in UFC events ever again. The complaint also asked that the fight be ruled a No Contest.
George St. Pierre has said in a youtube.com address that “Yes it’s true I cheated” but went on to further say that it was because he broke Penn down mentally. Video footage can be seen on numerous websites of Nurse applying Vaseline to George St. Pierre’s shoulders and back. It is a NSAC regulation that it only be applied to the face. Dana White was also quoted after the fight had ended, “The corner got caught rubbing Vaseline all over his back.” White went on to say later in a post fight interview that rules of that nature should not be broken at this level of competition and people like [Nurse] should not be allowed to participate in professional fights ever again.
St. Pierre has been suspected of greasing in the past which caused the Penn camp to alert the NSAC before the fight. “I’m just saying [George St. Pierre] was slick the last two times I fought him”, Matt Hughes said. Sean Shirk was also quoted about fighters greasing, not specifically naming George St. Pierre nor denying it. “I know I fought guys that were greased up…but if I don’t say it in the fight I won’t worry about it after.”
Many have expressed on MMA websites and blogs that Penn is a “crybaby” and a “sore loser” for having filed the complaint. However Penn feels it is his responsibility to uphold the rules and integrity of the sport. Penn is the only fighter to file an official complaint about greasing. Penn was also the whistle blower when there was suspicion of the use of steroids in his fight against Sean Shirk. “I love this sport and wouldn’t want to wear a belt knowing I cheated”, BJ said in his address to the commission.
At the official hearing in March, 2009 the NSAC stated that a decision “will be determined in the future”, considering the conclusive evidence against Phil Nurse. Keith Kizer, Executive Director of the NSAC did comment in regards to the lubrication that “It definitely wasn’t fair to Mr. Penn”. A decision about the complaint has yet to be rendered and no further hearings have been scheduled. The Penn camp feels the delay in judgment is a way for the Commission to let the problem “just go away”.
Whether or not the outcome of the UFC 94 fight would have been different is anyone’s guess. One hope’s that Kenny Florian won’t follow in GSP’s slippery foot steps and that this Title fight will be clean and fair. It is rumored that if Penn loses this fight a retirement announcement might shortly follow.