BBM caught up with BJ Penn and Jon Fitch – the headliners of UFC 127 – to discuss their preparations for the big fight.

BJ Penn:

ufc 127 poster with penn vs fitchThat fight against Matt Hughes, you must sit back and play that knockout over and over…
It was a great thing to watch but now’s not the time to sit down and look at the past, especially with the fight against Jon getting closer and closer. I’ll go back and watch the match when I retire but I gotta concentrate on Jon right now.

I’d presume one benefit was that you had less recovery time after the fight so you could go straight back into training?
Actually that’s what I’ve been doing my last few fights. In the past I would take a couple of months off after a fight and try and do a crash course and quickly prepare. I’m always in the gym these days though and I’d actually rather train all year round.

When do you start looking at tapes of Jon to strategise, is it after you know you’re physically prepared or straight away?
My physical preparation is pretty good right now, I’m quite close to fight shape. I’m not the guy to watch the tapes and pick everything apart, I just gotta go in and beat him.

You’ve fought in England, Japan and Abu Dhabi before. How does an international fight change things up for you?
Australia’s really good, you’re only three hours behind me in Hawaii so it’s like I’m flying over to Los Angeles for a fight. Doesn’t interrupt the preparation at all, it’s just a longer plane flight.

Jon Fitch:

What part of BJ’s fight do you need to target the most?
Whenever I watch a fight I always think about how I would take a certain guy down or what my strategy would be against them. I already have some ideas and a gameplan, focusing on what’s worked for his opponents in the past. Without giving too much away, we’re going to look at why others have been successful against BJ and why people failed. Let’s hope we can make that success happen and prevent the failures.

Dana White made some harsh comments about you after UFC 117, does that make you more determined going into this fight?
I’m a pretty driven person anyway, so it doesn’t matter what others want to say about me. I’m always my worst critic so there’s nothing that anybody can say about me that I haven’t said to myself before.

The last three years, all your fights have gone to decision. Is that your main concern at the moment?
I have had a lot of decisions in the past, and have struggled with that. I actually haven’t had a full camp for a fight in a while except for the fight against Thiago Alves, and he’s a hard guy to finish. [laughs] The rest have been replacement fights and last minute changes. We’ve been working on changing a few things up in training and focusing on setting up and finishing people. The good thing is that I’ve still found a way to win regardless of whether I could finish.