BJ Penn has been fighting at the highest level for a long time now, spending virtually his entire 10 year career inside the UFC’s Octagon.
Now 32, the desire to compete against the world’s best fighters and prove himself against them still burns strongly inside of him, and that’s certainly the case against former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz who he faces at UFC 137 in a little over a week’s time in Las Vegas.
“I’m excited for this fight,” Penn tells UFC.com in his pre-fight promo. “I’m excited to take another step and move forward in the right direction. You know, everyone’s goal is to get to the top. To get to the top we’re going to have to beat each other – there can be only one.”
Penn is also driven by his belief that despite being a decorated fighter who’s held both the UFC’s lightweight and welterweight titles during his career he’s still not shown everything he has to offer inside the Octagon.
“I’ve never really reached my peak and I’ve never really reached my potential. I’m going to fight until I get to that point.”
His upcoming fight with Diaz will certainly provide him with a stern test that could well bring out the best of him, and as Penn himself acknowledges, the Stockton native does a lot of things well.
“He sets a fast pace. He throws a lot of punches, he hits hard, he goes to the body well. His grappling is like a pure jiu-jitsu type style – very good grappler.”
On paper that’s not too far removed from Penn’s own skill-set, and as has been true throughout much of his career he’s not looking to come up with a clever gameplan to take advantage of any weakness Diaz may have, but rather is going to meet him head-on and find out who is the better fighter.
“We just got to everything he can do, but do it faster and stronger and harder and first.”
Despite the quality of this match-up it will in fact only serve as the co-main event as Georges St.Pierre’s title fight with Carlos Condit headlines the show, but like many fans, Penn believes this is the bout that will capture people’s imagination the most.
“This is the main event, this is the big fight. This is it. BJ Penn and Nick Diaz.”
And with that in mind he’s determined to put on a show for them.
“I just wanna put on the best performance of my life. I wanna come out of there with my hand raised.”
Watch the full interview below.