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Mike Dolce plays nice in response to B.J. Penn's barbs

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Mike Dolce is not interested in getting into a war of words with B.J. Penn. That much is clear.

After Penn went on UFC Tonight and hammered Dolce and his former client Nik Lentz, Dolce put the kid gloves on during an interview with Ariel Helwani on the 300th episode of The MMA Hour on Monday.

"It's kind of an honor for me to be involved in a B.J. headline, though they're not always the nicest," said Dolce, a well-known MMA nutrition guru. "I have nothing bad to say about B.J. He's certainly a legend in our sport and I think what he's done in our sport will never be seen again. He's a once-in-a-lifetime athlete."

Penn bashed Dolce and challenged Lentz to a fight last week on UFC Tonight. The bad blood goes back to Penn's last fight, a one-sided loss to Frankie Edgar in July 2014. In multiple interviews after that fight, he blamed Dolce for not doing enough to get him prepared to fight at a new weight class of 145 pounds.

Penn, a newly minted UFC Hall of Famer, retired after that Edgar defeat, but made it clear he would come out of retirement to fight Lentz -- and maybe Dolce, too.

"I'm sick and tired of talking about Mike Dolce," Penn said on UFC Tonight. "You know what, Mike Dolce? I put a challenge out right now, you go grab Nik Lentz, that's your boy? Bring him down to 145 [pounds]. I'll run right through him in one round and then I'll find you in the back and I'll smash you, OK? Let's do that right now. I'm ready."

Lentz did not take too kindly to the challenge, calling Penn a "spoiled little rich kid." Dolce was much more diplomatic.

"Fight camp and fighting itself, it's so high stress," Dolce said. "It's so high pressure. There's so many things happening all at once. And a lot of times there's the need for a release of that and I believe I was the release, which is fine. I think that's kind of where I'll leave it. Again, nothing bad to say about the guy."

Dolce said he has been in communication with people from Penn's team and, to his knowledge, the hatchet has been buried. He does not regret the time he spent with Penn in Hawaii during that training camp. Dolce said Lentz was there, too, and Penn was very appreciative of his presence as a sparring partner. He's not sure where all this new-found venom came from.

"I don't know, per say," Dolce said. "There's always competitive rivalry. Nik is a highly ranked guy. He's a top-10 guy, so I think that's there."

As far as Dolce fighting Penn himself, the diet coach laughed at that and called the idea "silly."

"I'm an old man," Dolce said. "I'm a coach. I was never a full-time fighter. B.J. Penn is a legend. That's really the matter. Now, you get a guy like Conor McGregor versus a B.J. Penn, that's the fight that probably people want to see. You want to see B.J. fight legends, for sure. You don't want to see him fight coaches, old men."

Dolce doesn't think Penn coming back is necessarily a bad idea, though he believes that Penn's legacy is cemented. Dolce thinks that decades from now people might be talking about "The Prodigy" the way we talk about Bruce Lee now.

"Can he come back and still whoop ass?" Dolce said. "Absolutely. I believe that he can. Should he? That's a question for him and his family, though."

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