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Why I Fight: The Belt Is Just an Accessory Hardcover – April 13, 2010

4.1 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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From the Back Cover

Street fighting.
Brazilian jujitsu.
Welcome to BJ Penn's island. (Don't worry, he won't hurt you . . . much.)

For the last decade, BJ Penn has been one of the most successful and feared fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC). People have been quick to judge, praise, criticize, and hype him, trying to understand what makes him the provocative and controversial fighter that he is.

Why I Fight is the answer that critics, fans, commentators, and pundits have been waiting for. In his own words, Penn explains what led a scrappy teenager from the rough streets of Hilo, Hawaii, onto the biggest stage in all of mixed martial arts. In life, just like in the Octagon, he has never been one to back down from a fight.

A blunt and brutal look at his hardest-fought victories and his most frustrating defeats, Why I Fight is the story of how BJ Penn became one of only two fighters in UFC history to hold belts in two different weight classes. It is the story of a kid from Hawaii who loved to fight. It is the story of a true prodigy.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

BJ Penn is a former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion and is considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. In 2000, he became the first and only non-Brazilian-born winner of the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in the black belt category. Penn is only the second fighter (after Randy Couture) to win UFC titles in two different weight classes. He lives in Hilo, Hawaii.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (April 13, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061803650
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061803659
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #641,589 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Michael E. Comeau on April 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Frankly, I can't believe how good this book was. I was expecting the safe (ironic for people who risk their necks fighting in a cage), bland, cliche-ridden writing we usually see in MMA autobiographies, but there's none of that here.

BJ lets it all hang out here, providing an extremely detail-oriented recounting of his life story, ranging from his childhood to his BJJ career to his current status as one of the greatest MMA fighters in history.

This book is the polar opposite of [...], where BJ dispenses information in 30-second bursts. Why I Fight is a veritable encyclopedia of information about the MMA and BJJ worlds, and BJ never shies away from controversial topics like hairy negotiations with the UFC.

Why I Fight is absolutely, positively a must-buy for MMA fans. We simply haven't seen this level of detail regarding the MMA industry from anyone, and BJ's perspective is particularly interesting because he went from rookie to all-time great in just a few short years.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm a huge BJ Penn fan, but wasn't quite sure what the book was going to be like. This book pretty much takes you from BJ's early life to the present. Also through all of his fights, his training leading up, and his thoughts about them. If you want to know the story of the Gracie vs. Penn saga and how BJ went from BJJ star to UFC star, then definitely this is what you want. It's peppered with BJ's comments on all the stuff inbetween. BJ doesn't seem to hold much animosity towards people that you think he would e.g. Gracie's or people he fought. Seems pretty clear that he talks most of the trash leading up to fights, after the fact he seems pretty respectful.

I had heard his argument on "Greasegate" prior to this book, but I think it's interesting to read in the written word. Maybe it's more compelling to hear his case once you read about his BJJ background and how remarkable his accomplishments really were. But to me, it made me side with BJ a little more. Even I noticed in the fight right away that BJ's legs seemed to be sliding right down GSP's back when in full guard. Water under the bridge at this point, but I think BJ made his point a little better in this book.

The part that is hilarious is that BJ DEFINITELY doesn't like the way the UFC does business. I tend to believe the stories in there though. He said Dana White was a lightweight when he started out in the UFC and had no clue what he was doing. Not as cocky as he is now. He pretty much said that the UFC will talk a good game on protecting the fighters, but is really out to screw em and he gives multiple examples how...not much surprise though. What I found funny was that he kept referring to Dana White as a guy that taught Aerobic Boxing.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am a huge BJ Penn fan and I have followed his fighting career for quite some time. I was really excited to get this book, and while it was not a disappointing read, it was far from a rewarding read. There are some insights into BJ's life and what led him to the path in the UFC and this book outlines his fights and competitions, but the reading is pretty dry and lacks the feel of a real biographical story. It reads so much more like a timeline/outline of his life in the ring and the octagon. I don't expect BJ to be as good at telling stories as he is at fighting, but I did expect that his co-author Weintraub would actually read and edit the book. There are spelling errors in the final print, there are numerous grammar errors and there are numerous paragraphs within certain chapters that seem redundant and express an idea that was just stated or the sentences say the exact same thing over and over with a few different words.
If you are a BJ Penn fan I would suggest getting this book, but if you are a casual UFC fan or just an avid reader, pass on this title and save the time.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book gives a great amount of insight to the goings-on behind some of BJ's most famous career highlights. The beginning was especially interesting, paying tribute to his upbringing and hometown. It gives proper background to the man who climbed his way out of a small town and into stardom and championship status.

I didn't realize how tightly woven the fight scene was. BJ trained at Ralph Gracie's, at AKA, with Couture, with Liddell. Every other chapter I was thinking, "Wow, really?" Legends among legends.

As a reader, I enjoyed that BJ's voice was properly captured. You can "hear" him telling the stories. I only wish the language was a bit tighter. Just a little thing but there was a serious abuse of the word "had." For example, "I had thought" instead of just "I thought." Once or twice would have been no big deal but it happens throughout the whole book and drags the pacing.

I also wish the fight descriptions were more sharp and gave more clear snapshots. It's hard to follow even if you know all the fight vocabulary. The good thing is I was able to switch to youtube, while reading, where most of the fights are archived and see exactly what he was talking about.

All in all, if you're a BJ Penn fan, you'll push easily through the clunky text and love this biography for all of its approachability, warmth, and generosity, sharing this champion's incredible history and philosophy.
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