Renowned boxing coach Freddie Roach once stated that UFC star BJ Penn was, “By far the best striker in MMA,” after having been impressed with him during a period instructing the former lightweight and welterweight champion.
More recently Penn has sought the tutelage of another highly regarded boxing trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr. who apparently is a little harder to please.
“I’ll be honest, at first, it didn’t seem like he could fight that good,” Mayweather admits in an interview with FightHype.
Describing Penn as, “a cool dude, man,” it seems that the more time he’s spent with him, the more Mayweather has been impressed.
“I don’t know about his ground game and all of that stuff, but he’s got some pop and in just the 3 days I’ve been working with him, he has improved man,” he says.
While it may have taken Mayweather a little bit of time to warm up to the MMA legend, the way the veteran trainer tells it, it appears that Penn has been relishing the chance to work with him.
“In his words, man, he told me, ‘I ain’t never seen some of this stuff you’re showing me, man.’ And that’s only after three days. BJ is learning fast, man. He’s a good guy.”
In fact, so taken is Penn with Mayweather’s training that he’s extended the amount of time he’ll be spending with him in preparation for his upcoming fight with Jon Fitch at UFC 127 in February.
“He was only supposed to be down here for a week, but he said he’s learning so much that he’s gonna stay two. If they really want him to win this thing and look good, I would like to have him for three to four weeks, but trust me, the stuff I’m showing him in these two weeks will work if he uses it…trust me.”
Georges St.Pierre is another high-profile fighter who’s sought the training of a boxing expert recently, spending time with Freddie Roach prior to his fight with Josh Koscheck, a move that appeared to pay off when he used the jab to great effect in five dominant rounds of striking.
It’s an interesting move for Penn to spend a considerable portion of his current camp improving his striking though considering that he’s just KO’d Matt Hughes in 21 seconds after returning to the 170lb division. That suggests his stand-up is in good working order, and regardless of that victory I would still give him a considerable advantage over Jon Fitch in the striking department.
Moreover, given that Fitch’s key strength is wrestling you’d think his time may be better spent honing his takedown defense, wrestling and BJJ skills.
Only time will tell whether it’ll prove to be a wise decision or not. We’ll find out for sure when the two fighters step into the cage at UFC 127 in Sydney, Australia on February 27th.