UFC 169: The BJ Penn Connection


With both UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao fighting under their banner, Sao Paulo-based Nova Uniao is making a very strong case for being the best camp in all of MMA.

That’s why it hardly seemed fair when news broke that former multi-division UFC champ BJ Penn would be making his way to Brazil to help Aldo and Barao train for their upcoming title fights at this weekend’s UFC 169.

“The Prodigy” chose to reunite with longtime Brazilian jiu-jitsu coach Andre Pederneiras, who now runs Nova Uniao, in preparation for his upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter 19 opposite arch nemesis Frankie Edgar. According to Aldo, who detailed Penn’s contributions in an Ultimate Fighting Championship video, it’s been a mutually beneficial relationship:

“It was great to have BJ Penn come over. To help us out a little and pass on some of his experience. I was always a BJ Penn fan, and it’s been a great experience to have him here. He’s always up to help us and assist us with anything. I hope he comes to do his camp here so I can be here to help him.”

There’s no doubt that Aldo and Penn sharing their vast wealth of fighting knowledge with one another will help improve the other’s game. However, Aldo and Penn have both gained notoriety for slowing down in the later rounds of title fights after being drained from massive weight cuts. That’s something that has to be dealt with because Aldo has to show up in great shape to defeat Ricardo Lamas in New Jersey.

For his part, Barao will take on the streaking Urijah Faber in the evening’s main event. “The Baron” is riding high on an almost unheard-of 32-fight unbeaten streak and has finished elite bantamweights Michael McDonald and Eddie Wineland in his last two bouts. Despite the momentum, he’ll need all the help he can get to knock “The California Kid” off his high horse. He declared the recent training camp a success for accomplishing that goal:

“This training camp was great. The whole team got together to help us out. So it was great to have everyone’s positive energy around. Everybody is going to be there on fight day and we are all thinking of the victory.”

It sounds like the Nova Uniao team is ready to take UFC 169 by storm. We wouldn’t expect anything less from the bulldozing team lead by power strikers Aldo and Barao. Adding Penn to the mix simply fuels the fire.

But the two prized pupils will still have their hands full with Lamas and Faber. Will a great training camp translate into more championship dominance for the Brazilian superstars?

  • Good write up Mike, balanced and no bias seen. I've never been a BJ fan, but this article made it readable to me

  • We've heard the "New and motivated" BJ stories so many times before that it's hard to take him seriously anymore….but I'm still a huge Penn fan and I hope we see the hungry and ultra-talented BJ back in his old form!