by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
At just 25 years of age, Joe “Daddy” Stevenson already has
more experience and more accomplishments than many fighters will ever get in
their entire careers, but on Jan. 19 he will have the chance to win
championship gold as he faces B.J. Penn for the UFC lightweight title in
Training exclusively in Big Bear, Calif. to prepare for this
fight, Stevenson has been working alongside fighters such as Gray Maynard, Sam
Stout, Tyson Griffin and even grappling legend Marcello Garcia to get him ready
for the fight with Penn.
He says he’s changed many things to get ready for what could
be considered the biggest fight of his career.
“This is my ninth week in Big Bear, so I’ve done a lot of
things different,” said Stevenson. “Normally, I make my own meals. I’m getting
spoiled this time. I have my own doctor, Dr. John Batrick, who works on
professional athletes, does Olympians, NFL stars, and he came out here to hang
out and fix me up and work on me and at the same time he brought his buddy up
that cooks for Bon Jovi. I’m getting stuff made from one of the best chefs out
Beyond eating better food, Stevenson believes it’s the
isolation in Big Bear that makes the biggest difference in a training camp for
a fight of this magnitude.
“Less distractions,” he said about the best part of training
in Big Bear. “Honestly when I’m in Vegas, I like to spend my time with my
family and that’s the best thing in the world and now I get to sit back and
hear my wife tell me the baby kept her up till four and I don’t have to wake
up. It’s just about getting away from everything that’s going to distract you.”
Working on cardio is always a factor for a five-round title
fight and B.J. Penn has long been questioned for his conditioning, but it’s
Stevenson who feels that cardio won’t be anyone’s undoing in this match-up.
“It’s always a factor,” he said about conditioning. “But I
don’t think that’s what’s going to win or lose this fight. It’s going to come
up to game plan and ability.”
Traveling to England alongside long time trainer Marc Laimon
as well as former UFC and Pride superstar Kevin Randleman to help in his
corner, Stevenson doesn’t feel he should be the underdog when he steps in to
“It was like that on Yves (Edwards) too,” commented
Stevenson on Penn being favored in the fight. “I think there’s really more
pressure on me. I want to show people that I’m not the underdog.”
It was also recently announced after former champion Sean
Sherk’s suspension was upheld (his sentence was reduced to six months) that the
fight with Penn and Stevenson would be for the UFC lightweight title after it
was originally set up to be an interim title fight.
“I was already training hard. The interim belt was to me the
same thing,” said Stevenson about the change in title situations. “I was
training my butt off regardless. You have to against an opponent like B.J.
Ultimately, he is looking to prove himself as one of the top
fighters in the world and if he can defeat B.J. Penn, he very well may be
“You can expect a war,” said a confident Stevenson about the
fight on Jan. 19. “I’m prepared to go five rounds, 150 percent. You can expect
a barnburner and it’s going to be my hand raised at the end and his head down.”