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B.J. Penn addresses recent bar brawl videos: ‘The last thing I want to do is get into any type of trouble’

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B.J. Penn
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Two separate incidents of B.J. Penn being involved in physical altercations at establishments in Hawaii have made the rounds over the last few months. Now he’s telling his side of the story.

In an interview with TSN, Penn explains that the footage published by TMZ does not paint a full picture of the events and while he acknowledges his role in the brawls, he insists that he is doing what he can to avoid trouble given that he is currently embroiled in a custody battle.

“Just to begin with, there was another video posted on TMZ of me holding somebody on the ground,” Penn told TSN. From that—because I’m in the middle of a custody case right now—I got a lot of slack already from the custody evaluator, from their lawyer, of course, from my lawyer. So the last thing that I’m looking to do—yeah, because everybody was saying that I held down a bouncer, but it wasn’t a bouncer or anything like that. It’s just something happened and I had to protect myself and hold a guy on the ground. So the last thing I want to do is get into any type of trouble.

“My custody case, me seeing my kids depends on all this stuff. It’s just really strange how things just happen and you never see this kind of stuff. But here I am in a custody case and this happened twice.”

According to Penn, 40, the other party in the more recent August incident was someone he knew, though he couldn’t specify exactly what led to them coming into conflict. In separate clips, Penn can first be seen being struck by a man, causing him to fall flat on his back on the street. The second clip shows Penn and the man inside an establishment, this time with Penn punching away from back mount.

The former two-division UFC champion says he tried multiple times to defuse the situation.

“I’m at a concert going to meet a friend of mine that I knew since we were real young kids and I’m over there, and then an acquaintance of mine he gets mad about something,” Penn said. “You know, something was said or what or if it was an old past thing and then he wants to fight about it. I’m like, ‘Naw naw,’ we’ve got a lot of witnesses, everybody can corroborate my story. I’m like, ‘No, no, no, I don’t want to fight. We’re friends, everything’s cool,’ this and that. He even walks outside and I’m thinking, ‘Aw, this is silly.’ I’m going to go get him, calm him down, come back inside, we’ll come enjoy the concert, we’ve got some other friends there. I walk outside to go give the guy a hug and then he hits me twice. I’m like, ‘No, no, calm down.’ I try to give him another hug and he hits me a couple more times and then he hits me again—I wish they didn’t cut the video in half so whoever put that video up cut it in half, I wish they had the whole thing that showed me trying to hug the guy—finally, my adrenaline kicked up because he was hitting me so much, I’m like, ‘Go ahead, hit me again.’

“But really, I thought the guy would eventually just be like, ‘You know what? Forget it, B.J.,’ give me a hug or whatever, walk away. He hit me and he hit me good. Knocked me down. And then when I got back up he tried it again and then I just had to defend myself. So that’s what you see in the second video.”

In addition to his legal concerns, Penn is also reportedly set to fight Nik Lentz later this year. Penn is winless in his last eight bouts dating back to 2011 and his next Octagon appearance is expected to be his last.

That’s one more reason he thinks it’s odd that anyone would think he is actively seeking to create chaos in his personal life.

“The last thing I’m trying to do is trying to look to go out into a fight,” Penn said. “Ask anybody who knows me, I’m not the first guy to go around and just start pushing people. I’m an older guy too and I just want to enjoy my life and I was thinking today, driving around, why don’t I have two bodyguards on the sides of me at all times just making sure it’s impossible I can get into any trouble. I was thinking that all morning.

“I just have so much things going on, my last fight I’m supposed to be taking care of, I’m jumping into training camp right now, and just a lot of things. A lot of things going on, a lot of things in the mind right now.”

Penn admitted that he had been drinking ahead of the August incident, though did not describe his alcohol consumption as being in excess. He could not speak to the state of mind of his adversary in the video.

“We were at a concert inside a bar and grill place,” Penn said. “Definitely, I had two drinks when I got over there. But all those old past grudges, that’s what happened with that last situation. I don’t know, I heard so much things from so much different people of why that happened. All I know is what exactly happened.

“He hit me—I don’t know, you don’t know how much times you’re getting hit when you’re getting hit. I would have said I would have got hit eight-to-10 times or something like that and just, I don’t know, I don’t want to comment on what that guy was doing. I didn’t see everything he was doing. He was there before I got there. But what a situation.”