Saturday, September 3, 2011

Why I Fight: The Belt Is Just an Accessory by BJ Penn

I recently said of both Brock Lesnar and Forest Griffin's (first) book a flaw was a lack of depth and detail. That's not the case here. BJ Penn it seems wants to leave his legacy behind via telling everything how he remembers it. There's a lot of information about growing up in Hawaii. He sort of lionizes it and you can tell he's proud of his roots. He puts Hilo over as a place where fighting was just a way of life, daily, and along with his brothers found scraps regularly. I found it really interesting learning how BJ entered into the world of BJJ leaving behind his home to go to California as a young kid to train with Ralph Gracie. Penn was obsessed with jiujitsu and moved up its ranks competing and doing well at major worldwide competitions in Brazil. This was an up and close look at a part of BJ's past the UFC has never really shone light on.

Once BJ gets into MMA and the UFC he talks about the preparation, his mental state of mind, and then the fight itself of almost all of his bouts. It's revealing hearing how different and more bush league things were during the early days of Dana White and Zuffa running the co. BJ isn't afraid to call both Dana and the co. out on shit which is refreshing as, given BJ's side of things, they were at times pretty shitty employers. Penn's pretty frank and honest about his fights, he admits fault, routinely talking about when he was getting tired or exhausted, not making much in the way of excuses, etc. That's not to say BJ doesn't play the victim at all, as his reputation would suggest, he puts over some losses like the ones to Machida (he was too big) and the second to St-Pierre (grease) without taking full responsibility.

Overall, this is a good read, I wasn't really a huge Penn fan before this, but definitely earned more respect and perspective on his career and him as a person. It definitely takes you into the trials and tribulations of a fighter, both the good and bad (both in and out of the cage) times. Too bad Carlos Condit is going to kick his ass.

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