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Why I Fight: The Belt Is Just an Accessory Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 13, 2010
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From the Back Cover
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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Top customer reviews
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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.
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.
I had the pleasure of reading this book while on vacation in BJ's hometown of Hilo, HI and it was neat to see the places he loves while reading about them. I even used the book as a bit of a travel guide and took his recommendation of eating at Verna's Drive In (a place he sadly has to avoid when cutting weight) and was not disappointed!
I hope BJ writes another book, as I would love to hear stories about his unlikely friendship with Matt Hughes and more detail on the great stories Joe Lauzon shared online about visiting BJ in Hawaii.
What I found most intriguing was Penn's analysis of his relationship with Dana White. He criticizes White for trying to be bigger than the fighters and for being dishonest. He even goes on to say that White has three faces, and as you peel away each layer, his character gets shadier and more ignominious.
Another thing I found interesting was BJ's analysis about all of his loses. Now, he tries to say that he is a "no-excuse" type of guy, but for every lost, ranging all the way back to his competitive grappling days, he has a litany of excuses. The problem I have with this is that the book becomes his platform to explain away all of his loses, instead of explaining what he actually learned from them. He does, however, learn from some of his loses, and he writes about this in moderate detail, but for the most part the book is just one long explanation of how he could have won every fight he ever lost.
Overall, this is a good book. Compared to all the other MMA biographies floating out there, BJ's book ranks as one of the best.
This book is great from start to finish. You just don't want it to end, but hey he is still young there may be more to come.
I think he is the most tallented MMA fighter of our generation. Being part Hawaiian myself I feel inspired by the Hilo kid.