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World Series Champ Shane Victorino Gives UFC 101 Philly Blessing

Shane Victorino, BJ PennPHILADELPHIA – BJ Penn is fond of saying that fighting is in the blood of most Hawaiians, and Shane Victorino tends to agree. The Philadelphia Phillies All-Star outfielder, who is also from the 50th state, happens to be a massive UFC fan, and stopped by the UFC 101 fighter workouts prior to his Wednesday night game against the Colorado Rockies.

Ironically, however, Victorino did not originally become a fan because of Penn, but was indoctrinated into the UFC by his fiancée, Melissa Smith, who once worked as an assistant for Zuffa co-owner Lorenzo Fertitta. Victorino and Smith live in Las Vegas during the offseason, and he's become friendly with UFC brass, including President Dana White.

Like millions of others, Victorino is a big fan who regularly logs on to the web to get the latest news. And he says he has plenty of company on his team. Jayson Werth, Raul Ibanez, Ryan Howard and Jimmy Rollins all follow the action as well.

"And keep going down the list. You'd be surprised how many guys are into it," he said, adding that he expects to have a good relationship with new acquisition Cliff Lee after hearing he is also a fan.

Victorino and the Phils have a home game Saturday night, but plans to rush over from Citizens Bank Park to the Wachovia Center when his game ends in time to catch some of UFC 101. He's done a bit of boxing in Las Vegas, and says he has a profound respect for the athletes who compete in MMA.

"Being an athlete myself and being around these guys and watching them train -- I've seen Forrest Griffin train in Vegas -- it really frustrates me to see the misconceptions of what the sport is. No one would say that about boxing, that it's human dogfighting. The sport's evolved. Lorenzo, Dana and Frank took it to where it's a sport.

"You can't just take a guy off the street and say, 'let's get in the octagon and see what happens' against a guy that trains every day,'" he continued. "That'd be like me taking a guy off the street and saying, 'let's go play baseball.' That's the biggest misconception, that people think anyone can do it. Believe me, they can't."

Victorino's been to many fights before, but hopes to one day see the UFC come to Hawaii, where he said he believes MMA has become the No. 1 most popular sport. And for this one, not surprisingly, he is going with his fellow Hawaiian.

"I think it'll be great fight," he said. "Rumor around here is that BJ is in unbelievable shape. To me, BJ at 155 is so deadly. That's where I think he belongs. It's his perfect weight. I've got to go with BJ. I've got to go with the fellow Hawaiian, but Kenny [Florian's] done a great job. He's really evolved. It'll be a great fight. I have my favorites but I just want to see great fights. That's what it's all about."

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