BJ Penn has been one of the most outspoken and successful fighters in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. His book, Why I Fight, written with David Weintraub, is a story about his journey to becoming a mixed martial arts fighter. Penn is quite candid about his relationship with UFC president Dana White. Throughout the book, he talks about White’s selfishness, and favoritism toward some fighters. He also writes about what it took to achieve his goal of winning the most prestigious Brazilian jujitsu tournament in the world.
In two chapters, Penn makes reference to his violent upbringing in Hilo, Hawaii. That’s right. The rough and mean streets of Hilo, Hawaii, were a very violent place to live. According to neighborhoodscout.com, Hilo is ranked very high for violent crime.
Penn writes that as a kid he organized fights on his front porch and also spent time having fun. And “fun” meant finding marijuana plants in the sugarcane fields and along the rivers. He wrote that the stupidest thing he has ever done was smoking marijuana in the school bathroom. He said, “Getting caught was a bad thing, but looking back on it, it was just so incredibly stupid to be doing something so obviously immature, and dangerous, in a school.”
As a kid, he loved to fight. And as an adult, that love for fighting remained and not just in the ring, but also in the courts with his legal battles with White and the UFC. White is not happy with this book. He told SI.com that after he learned about the book, he approached Penn and Penn family lawyer, Gary Levitt, with a question: "Why would you put out a book that is 90 percent not true?"
Penn writes about how there would always be the one guy the UFC owners, the Fertittas brothers (Lorenzo and Frank) and White would give a lot of money to. They had their favorite fighters, like Pedro Rizzo and later on Chuck Liddell, who received much larger purses. Penn thought that their backgrounds did not make them good judges of talent. The Fertittas brothers were jujitsu white belts and White was a former aerobic “tae bo” instructor.
Penn also writes about his battles with the Gracie family (mostly Ralph Gracie) and many UFC fighters. Fighters like Sean Sherk, Jen Pulver and Matt Hughes, who he defeated at UFC 46. After he conquered Hughes, Penn wrote, “In Hughes’s corner was Lorenzo Fertitta, consoling him in his defeat, and it also seemed to me Dana White was not very happy that I had just knocked off Hughes.”
At the time, Penn was the welterweight champion and couldn’t work out a contract with the UFC, and had decided to instead fight his next fight in Japan. He alleges White called him up and told him his feelings. Penn wrote that White said, ‘“You [expletive deleted]! You’re [expletive deleted] done! You’ll never fight in the UFC again! You’re finished. You’re scorched earth, [expletive deleted]. Scorched earth. Don’t call me crying saying you want to come back because you’re [expletive deleted] done!” And on and on, like a true professional -- even going so far as to tell me I would never see my face again in a UFC video, promotion, or anything else. He also planned on removing my fight with Hughes from the UFC 46: Supernatural DVD so no one would even know who I was.’