Fight fans send videos to UFC lightweight Nik Lentz all the time. Often, they're out of date.
When Lentz's phone started blowing up with messages and he saw a link that appeared to show B.J. Penn in a bar fight, he thought it was another viral video that allegedly showed the UFC Hall of Famer brawling with a strip club bouncer.
"I was like, 'Why are people sending me old videos?'" Lentz told MMA Junkie. "This is so old. And then I looked, and I was like, 'Oh my God.'"
At first, Lentz felt angry that his longtime rival had gotten into an altercation that could jeopardize a fight he said the UFC has confirmed to him for Oct. 18 in Boston.
Then, he felt sad as he watched Penn get knocked out by a man outside a club in Hawaii.
UPDATE: Second vid shows BJ Penn getting KO’d when the fight spilled into the street https://t.co/5oDkSQXguLpic.twitter.com/LBkloncfc0
OPINION: If street fight doesn't compel the UFC to cut BJ Penn, what will?
Now, he's feeling a little righteous. But he's also not backpedaling on what he's set out to do.
"I predicted all this stuff a long time ago," Lentz said. "I said a bunch of stuff, and unfortunately, nobody listened to me. But now they're seeing that I'm right."
"I'm going to be ready when the time comes, so as far as I'm concerned, that's what's going to happen," he added later.
Penn's latest brush with the law raises serious questions about the UFC Hall of Famer's readiness to step into the cage. But Lentz doesn't see what the fuss is about.
"There's all this outrage, but he just did this," said Lentz, referring to Penn's alleged brawl at the strip club. "So we just went through this, and I still had the fight then. I don't really understand the outcry all of a sudden.
"I 1 million percent believe this is outcry because everyone doesn't want to take responsibility that they helped create this monster. Because every time someone messes up and you give them a pass in life just because they're good at something, that's not a good trait. That's how the guy lived his whole life."
Lentz, who most recently suffered a second loss to Charles Oliveira, has long claimed Penn's gifts inside the octagon are shadowed by bad behavior and a longtime substance addiction, and he's tried his best to book a showdown.
For several years, that dream was denied. But UFC president Dana White revived it when he said he would give Penn one final fight after seven consecutive losses, and no wins in nearly nine years, and Lentz would be the opponent.
The UFC has repeatedly declined to comment on the status of the potential bout, which would take place at UFC on ESPN 6, and Penn's multiple brushes with the law over the past year. A family rep for Penn claimed he was attacked by the man, an acquaintance, before fighting back in the most recent incident.
In an interview with TMZ.com, UFC Hall of Famer Chuck Liddell speculated the fight could be canceled as the result of this week's trouble. Lentz, though, said he's still training for his showdown.
"Now, I can't tell you 100 percent that's what's going to happen," he said. "But as far as I'm concerned, that's where we're headed."
Nik Lentz says he's continuing to train as though he's fighting B.J. Penn. (Photo: Stephen R. Sylvanie, USA TODAY Sports)
In a separate TMZ.com interview, Lentz made an unusual proposition when he offered to house Penn and train with him as the fight approaches. He once famously trolled his rival with a poem. But this time, it was no joke.
"I'm telling him, 'You can come down here and train with me,'" Lentz said. "I'm still going to kick his ass when we fight, but the guy needs somebody to get himself together before he shoots himself or something. He's acting like someone on the verge of doing something very stupid."
Lentz blames the media and Penn's inner circle for letting things get to this point. He said the media have ignored Penn's faults in pursuit of fan journalism, and added Penn "needs someone to tell him, 'Hey, you're (expletive) up. You need to get it together.'"
He also clears the UFC of responsibility in booking the fight.
"I think if fans will pay to watch it, and writers possibly write about it, then why wouldn't they do it?" he said. "This is my problem with this. Everyone says stuff like this. They're like, 'What if he has a concussion? What if he has CTE?' Where the hell was everyone else when he was doing drugs and getting in bar fights before? What's worse? Getting knocked out once, or beating up random strangers on a bender for two days? Everyone acts like him getting rocked in some bar fight is the worst thing that ever happened."
Lentz claimed any long-term damage Penn has sustained has been in the gym rather than the street.
"Anyone who's ever been in fighting or understands fighting knows that people don't get brain damage in fights for the most part," he said. "We have accidents like when the boxer passed away. Those do happen, but most injuries come from training, because that's what you do every day.
"So CTE is from training. That's where you get that. It's not from fighting. You don't fight enough to get severe brain damage. That's not how it works. The actual fight is too short, the gloves are too small, you get knocked out too quick – it's repeated concussions to the head that cause CTE. It has nothing to do with the actual fight."
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