That's because the fighter, Reagan Penn, is the brother of UFC star B.J. Penn. Reagan is an experienced Brazilian jiu jitsu practitioner who's making his mixed martial arts debut against a little-known opponent named Paul Gardiner on the ProElite show, and he said on The MMA Hour that he's been surprised by how many people are talking about him, even though he's never fought before.
"I'm definitely getting a lot more attention than I expected," he said. "It's a lot of pressure."
The 30-year-old Reagan said that over the last few years he's spent a lot of time with his brother, everything from cornering B.J. during fights to doing the technical work on BJPenn.com. But he said it dawned on him recently that it was time for him to do more than just that, and start pushing himself in a new direction.
"I just found myself not doing much," Penn said. "I didn't have any plans before, but I found myself not doing much and it seemed like the right time. I'm training more, getting in good shape."
Reagan said he thinks his jiu jitsu skills are close to as good as B.J.'s, but he's got a lot of work to do in the stand-up department. That's what he knew he needed to improve before he could step into the cage with Gardiner.
"I've been working a lot on my standup," Penn said. "I'm trying to get comfortable. You never know until you get there, but I'm comfortable on my feet. We'll see on Saturday."
It's not realistic to think that Reagan could start his MMA career at age 30 and be anything close to the same fighter as B.J., who's been a professional fighter for more than a decade. But the Penn name carries a lot of weight in MMA, especially in Hawaii, and there's no fighter on the ProElite card who can expect a warmer reception from the local fans than Penn.
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