Even after all these years, haters still dole out criticism that attack BJ Penn's motivation, his skills, his background. And it's those nice people that give him the motivation to do his best in the gym.
"I'm sure it's constructive at times, but they light a fire under my butt," Penn today told MMAjunkie.com Radio.
BJ doesn't need to worry that Diaz will fight in the way that prompts a flare-up: the ground and pound, hold-you-down artist.
And Penn says there's also an economic reasoning behind that logic. It's one he might not have grasped without children in his life.
"I think at the end of the day, it's hard for me to talk about this because some fighters, that's really all they have," he said. "They cannot do anything else. They're going out there (and) they want to put food on their table and feed their families.
"So really, talking about things like this, you're talking about taking food off their tables. With the way the rules are right now, it's giving [wrestlers] a big advantage, and that's it. That's life, and we as fighters who want to finish the fight have to train extra hard and prepare more to make sure that doesn't happen."
The ex-champ fights for a different reason now, and you can see that in his demeanor. There are others to fight for and other reasons to perform well. It's financial, sure, but it's also about keeping intact the spirit of his lifelong passion. It's about doing the best you can at your chosen pursuit. Having fun isn't bad, either. Diaz, simply put, offers a fun fight.
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BJ Penn fights Nick Diaz at UFC 137, Saturday, at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, live on pay-per-view.
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