Photo by Joel Gerson
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
B.J. Penn shocked the mixed martial arts world last weekend at UFC 137 by announcing his retirement after losing to former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz. After having his right eye swollen shot by Diaz after three rounds of pure stand up action, Penn stated: "I'm done, I can't go home looking like this."
Fans and media alike were not ready to see the former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion hang up his gloves for good.
Among them ... Cesar Gracie, head trainer at Cesar Gracie Jiu-Jitsu.
Speaking to Pedro Carrasco of BJPenn.com, Gracie talks about his history with Penn and officially makes an offer to unite Team Penn and Team Gracie into one powerful force.
"I'm watching this guys fight and I'm very impressed with his abilities, number one. Not a lot of guys can stand up like that with a Nick Diaz and not a lot of guys can win a round like that.I see the heart that BJ has but I see, well, wait a minute, how come a guy with this much heart with this much technique and natural god given ability, why isn't it happening for him now."
"What's wrong here is the stuff around him. I don't know his coaches or anything like that but for whatever reason it's not happening. This guy is coming into a fight and it's not that he is totally out of shape, but he is not in world class shape and that's what it takes these days to make it to the upper levels of fighting."
"I've had a relationship with BJ since he was 16 years old, so I obviously always like the kid, always knew of his talent. He's a genuine person; he's a guy that fights with his heart. He's not a steroid user like a lot of these guys he's not a cheater and you know there's respect for a guy like that."
"I think the joining of our camps, of our teams together, a sort of coalition would benefit him incredibly and it would benefit us too. Guys like BJ Penn, Reagan Penn, Nick and Nathan, you know, Gilbert Melendez all the guys on our team would benefit from having those guys around. He's got too much talent to quit right now and he needs to get with some world class athletes and this is the perfect opportunity, the time is ticking and it's time to do it."
"It's just a good fit, everyone is talking about BJ's cardio, Nick, Nathan and Gilbert, these guys are the kings of cardio, and they do not get tired. BJ has to change some things up, he's gotta change his diet up a little bit too. BJ has been running off talent and talent alone and that's not good enough to make it these days."
"BJ' best days are in front of him. This is a wonderful opportunity to turn the page and look towards the future. He can rewrite his whole future right now, he can do it. This a formal invitation. I talked to Nathan Diaz just a few minutes ago because he is one of the guys I haven't discussed this with yet and he said ‘absolutely!' Nick Diaz told BJ not to quit after the fight because BJ was talking about quitting and that really upset Nick because this guy just gave him a war and he's thinking the same thing I am thinking, No way don't quit."
"For the cause of saving MMA in the world these guys need to get together because people are inspired by that kind of fighting and if we keep having these other guys that just want to hold you and not fight it's going to destroy the sport that we love that we have been involved with our whole lives."
Cesar Gracie's camp is certainly one of the best in the nation, housing talent such as former Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz, current Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, former Strikeforce middleweight champion Jake Shields and Nate Diaz, among others.
Would a change of scenery and an alliance between the two camps be enough to convince "The Prodigy" that indeed his best days are ahead of him -- and that he can still make a run in the UFC?
Time will tell.