B.J. Penn was a no-show at Tuesday's UFC 152 press conference. Officially, he had to miss the event due to family circumstances, but his Sept. 22 opponent Rory MacDonald just sees his absence as another sign of an unfocused opponent.
Penn recently came out of a brief retirement to accept the matchup with MacDonald, saying he wanted revenge on MacDonald's camp, Tri-Star, which is also the home of Penn's longtime rival Georges St-Pierre. But on Tuesday, MacDonald publicly questioned whether Penn is truly motivated to return, and warned that if he's not, things will end disastrously for the former two-division champion.
"I'm training for the best BJ, you know what I mean?" he said. "I'm preparing to be the best version, I'm going to come out evolved. I'm going to come out in good shape, explosive, exciting like I always do, and I'm going to be very technical. I'm going to be on point. I don't know where B.J.'s at. He didn't even show up to this. He's dropping out of the VADA testing. The last time I saw him he looked really out of shape. I don't know where his head is at in this, but he better get serious or I'm going to hurt him very badly."
The VADA testing MacDonald referred to is independent drug testing done by the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association. Penn originally requested that the organization get involved to ensure both he and MacDonald are drug-free for their matchup.
MacDonald agreed to the stipulation, but then Penn asked that VADA keep the results of the test private until after the bout, something expressly forbidden by the organization's standards, which state that "athletes will agree that all results are immediately released to the appropriate adjudicating commission overseeing their upcoming contest."
That was a non-starter for Penn, who said he didn't want to threaten the bout's occurrence, but only wanted to ensure top-level drug testing. For MacDonald, that's just more evidence that Penn's focus may not be in the right place.
"I think he did it just to start s---, to get something going," MacDonald said. "But I was up for it. I said let's do it. I was ready to prove that I'm not on anything and maybe motivate other fighters to start doing it, too. But he was the one that offered it and then backed out of it. He started making all these sayings like they weren't going to release the test before the fight, and all this, and they never did. He started making up all this stuff, so I don't know really what's going on with B.J.'s head right now."
UFC Canadian director of operations Tom Wright later confirmed that the fights -- scheduled for Toronto's Air Canada Centre -- would be drug tested, with the promotion handling the screenings since the host province of Ontario does not provide testing.
That issue aside, MacDonald says his own aim is dead set on pummeling Penn and proving his superiority in every aspect of the fight. And whatever the reason the legend agreed to face him -- whether it was revenge for the past or anything else -- MacDonald advised Penn that he better get real serious, real quick. Or else.
"He's worried about Tri-Star. I don't care about that," he said. "I fight for myself and that's it. I'm not worried about that. He's all upset because Georges whipped him, but I'm going to hurt him even worse."