Ahead of BJ Penn’s return to the octagon for UFC 232, his long-time coach Jason Parillo revealed why he won’t be cornering the legend this time around.
Parillo is one of the most talented coaches in mixed martial arts today, having overseen the title-winning runs of several high-level athletes including former-middleweight champion Michael Bisping, current champ Cris Cyborg and, of course, the legendary BJ Penn.
And while the former-lightweight champion Penn’s run during his peak years will never be forgotten, his decline has been one that has been drawn out for a lot longer than most would have preferred to see.
The Hawaiian will look to overturn his run of five straight losses against Brazilian jiu-jitsu wizard Ryan Hall at UFC 232 but will be doing so without his longtime coach and friend Parillo.
Speaking to Obviously Fight Talk, Parillo explained his relationship with BJ Penn.
“Me and BJ connected like peanut-butter and jelly man. Me and BJ became so close that we were like brothers, like best of friends and then now, it’s like you get too close some times. We’re fairly close in age and over the course of time it ran its course.
“Me and him still talk, we exchanged texts this morning.
“He’s the most unpredictable man on the planet and regardless of how close we are he can also disappear at the same time. He was coming to UFC fights that I had guys fighting at and there was a lot of talk of him fighting again. So we were talking, I said come back out here and we’ll see, we’ll start training. Then he took off and went to Brazil.”
Sometimes a change of scenery can provide a fighter with the type of spark needed to offer a resurgence in form but in the case of Penn, who has not won inside the octagon since 2010, there is a clear ceiling on what should be expected.
One of the major factors in Parillo’s decision stemmed from his inability to oversee BJ’s progress through the camp, something that would have allowed him to make an informed judgement about the 40-year-old’s suitability for another matchup.
“That’s what I expect out of BJ Penn, he’s a very unpredictable man, he does his own thing. For me, I wanted to see how the progress was going and I wanted to see if I could get him doing the type of stuff we used to do in the past.
“I know he’s fighting a strong jiu-jitsu kid so he’s in the right place for that out in Brazil out at Nova Uniao – he’s got a long history with those guys, he’s in good hands.
“For me, for BJ to fight again, I want to be around him for eight weeks and see how he’s progressing and then say ‘you know what, we should/should not fight’.
“Not being around a guy you can’t even have that conversation.”