BJ Penn’s Canadian Albatross

BJ Penn and Georges St-PierreBJ Penn’s trainer Rudy Valentino recently dropped quite the bombshell on Gross Pointe Blank:

“I think it’s because of his so-called steroid use, and all of that, that B.J. felt it was an unfair fight. Just the whole thing about not being fair, and fighting fair, you know. That’s what B.J. wants to get off of his back; The greasing stuff, the steroids, and all of that”.

“We heard from certain people that used to train with him, telling us what he did in the past. That’s why, we had a heads up on that. When you cycle steroids, you’re not going to test positive. You can cycle it right up to the time of the fight and not test positive on that. That’s what we suspected he did in this fight”.

It’s tough for many fighters to accept defeat. As a rule, fighters are proud, egotistical and arrogant. The notion that someone might actually be better than they are is something a lot of guys simply cannot comprehend. That attitude is what makes them fighters and allows them to do things that normal human beings would never attempt.

But that same attitude can also lead to a litany of excuses after a loss. Take a look at the case of Tito Ortiz, for example. Never a gracious loser, Ortiz sought to soften the blow of his UFC 106 loss to Forrest Griffin. Despite claiming picture-perfect health going into the fight, Ortiz immediately used his post-fight interview time to reveal that he was not, in fact, healthy. Using a mumbled tone, Ortiz revealed he was suffering from a neck injury going into the fight.

Ortiz said he kept the injury a secret because he had to sell the fight. It’s a fair point. But fighters who suffer injuries in training typically immediately notify the UFC brass that there’s been an injury, even if they plan on working through it. It’s very telling that nobody at the UFC knew of the neck injury that prevented Ortiz from beating Forrest Griffin.

BJ Penn has single-handedly taken post-fight complaining to a brand new level after the St. Pierre fight. Granted, St. Pierre ran roughshod over Penn, completely dominating from the beginning until his team was forced to concede that the lightweight champion had nothing left to give. I can understand what kind of damage that must have done to the psyche of Penn, who has long been known as one of the absolute best fighters in the world.

I understood the complaints about St. Pierre’s camp applying grease to St. Pierre’s body. Those are completely valid. But there comes a time when a fighter has to step back and gaze inward instead of looking for somewhere else to cast the blame. Rudy Valentino’s attempt to discredit St. Pierre by spreading rumors that the Canadian welterweight champion uses steroids comes across as a pathetic, last-ditch attempt to convince the public that Penn should have and would have beaten St. Pierre had the sides of the equation been even. They weren’t even, of course; Penn was undersized and didn’t have a remote chance of matching St. Pierre’s strength or wrestling ability on that night.

The loss to St. Pierre is an albatross around the neck of BJ Penn, and it’s probably a tough burden to carry. But it’s long past time for Penn to move on, to accept defeat and to work towards redemption. I understand that Rudy Valentino, and not BJ Penn, was the one accusing St. Pierre of taking steroids. But Valentino is Penn’s trainer and a member of his camp, and thus Penn needs to vouch for the people he employs. He’s the boss, after all.

Penn will likely earn another shot at St. Pierre in the next two years – if not sooner – and he’ll need a clear head if he’s going to have any shot at victory. It’s time to stop making excuses, and it’s time for your team to stop making excuses for you.