MMA nutrition professional Mike Dolce has seen his share of controversy. Most recently, retired Hall of Famer B.J. Penn wondered aloud—very aloud—whether he'd like to return to action to face previous Dolce client Nik Lentz, essentially as revenge against Dolce.
Dolce had an opportunity to clap back Monday on The MMA Hour, hosted by broadcaster Ariel Helwani. However, when given the chance to respond to Penn's claims that he was not helpful enough in the run-up to Penn's July 2014 fight with Frankie Edgar, Dolce instead appeared to offer a verbal olive branch to the former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion.
"I think it was a brilliant move," Dolce told Helwani of Penn's call-out of Lentz. "I think he's kind of a genius marketer...Anytime B.J. says anything, it's exciting and it's newsworthy. It's an honor for me to be involved in a B.J. headline, even though they're not always the nicest. But I have nothing bad to say about B.J. He's a legend in our sport."
The bad blood (at least publicly) surfaced shortly after the fight, when Penn struggled to make the 145-pound weight limit, looked sluggish in a TKO loss to Edgar, then subsequently retired.
Things quieted down until last week, when Penn said in an interview on UFC Tonight (h/t Fox Sports) that he paid Dolce $1,000 a day for 20 days of his nutrition services.
"Mike Dolce wants to say all this stuff — I don't train, I don't do this and that — let's do this," Penn said. "Bring [Lentz] down to 145, and I would come out [of retirement] for that."
Dolce recalled Penn's camp for the Edgar fight on Monday, saying that moments of "high stress" helped create and exacerbate tensions. However, he declined to go into specifics on the camp or what happened.
"[Fight camps are] so high-pressure, there's so many things happening all at once, and a lot of times there's the need for a release of that," Dolce told Helwani. "And, you know, I believe that I was [Penn's] release, you know, and that's fine. And that's kind of where I'll leave it."
Throughout his career, Penn has been known for emotional reactions to wins, losses and everything in between. Dolce stopped short of saying that Penn's comments were a way of blaming him for the loss, but he did defend his own work with Penn while pointing out Penn's tendencies toward invective.
"I think that it's a series of issues, concerns or just pressure, the high pressure that comes along with such a fight, such an emotionally driven fight," Dolce said. "I know the work that we did, and I know that definitely did our best to support him 100 percent at that time and since then."
As for Penn's fight with Lentz, it is unclear whether it might actually happened, though Lentz did respond to the call-out on Twitter.
BJ -Try to enjoy obscurity without embarrassing yourself NL— Nik Lentz (@NikLentz) October 1, 2015
Penn retired from the sport with a record of 16-10-2, having lost three straight bouts to end what was by all accounts an illustrious career.