B.J. Penn Wants to Prove Loss to GSP Was a 'Fluke'

Jordy McElroyCorrespondent IJune 13, 2012

BJ Penn - Esther Lin/MMAFighting
BJ Penn - Esther Lin/MMAFighting

Georges St-Pierre and Tristar Gym may have won the battle, but if B.J. Penn has things his way, they won't win the war.

The former two-division champion is set to come out of retirement at UFC 152 to take on rising welterweight star and Tristar standout Rory MacDonald.

There is plenty of history between Penn and MacDonald's mentor, St-Pierre. The two first met in a closely contested No. 1 contender's bout at UFC 58, where St-Pierre walked away with a split decision and a trip to the hospital.

The stakes were higher the second time the two legends crossed paths.

At UFC 94, it was a champion vs. champion matchup as St-Pierre defended his welterweight title against Penn, who was the reigning lightweight champ at the time.

St-Pierre stomped out past cries of controversy in a lopsided beating that ended with Penn's corner throwing in the towel before the fifth round.

In an interview earlier this year with Brett Okamoto of ESPN.com, Penn credited the loss to St-Pierre as one of two bouts that have haunted him over the course of his career.

"I'm trying to find myself a little bit––not as a fighter trying to come back to the sport, but just as a person. I just honestly sit back and reflect and look at how it went. I really do feel I could have done a lot better in a lot of different situations. I'm heartbroken with the way some of the fights went. The way my UFC 94 fight [against Georges St-Pierre] and my fights with Frankie Edgar went. I'm heartbroken about those fights."

Penn now sees a small opportunity for payback against MacDonald. Sure, this isn't a world title bout against St-Pierre, but a win over a budding contender like MacDonald would be huge for Penn at this point of his career.

Is this all about vengeance? If not, what is "The Prodigy" really looking to prove against a young lion in MacDonald?

In an interview with Abel Pulver of "Just Scrap Radio," Penn talked about his desire to show the world he's a much better fighter than the guy who was dominated by St-Pierre.

"The past is the past. There's nothing for me to talk about on that end. That is definitely left in the past.

It would be nice to let them know [the loss to GSP] was a fluke. The fight is not going to go down the same way. Rory is not going to just walk in there and take me out and beat me up for four rounds straight and end up putting me away. I really believe that the fight is going to go different, and they are going to realize that when we start fighting. This isn't the same guy they fought that night, and this is going to be a whole different thing."

Despite continued attempts by fans and media to paint Penn and St-Pierre as adversaries, "The Prodigy" says he doesn't have any personal issues with St-Pierre or Tristar Gym.

His bout against MacDonald is just business.

"There is no bad blood. I see Firas [Zahabi] all the time. I see Georges. Everything is in the past. I'd like to get out there and show Tristar Gym and their fans – I'm a worthy opponent. I'm not just a guy that's going to walk in the ring and somebody's just gonna walk across the other side and walk across and crush me. That's not gonna be the story."