What a great weekend to be a fight fan! Aside from Pacquiao-Marquez 4, UFC on Fox 5 also happens this Sunday, December 9. Hooray for more bakbakan!
On the stacked fight card: Benson Henderson defends his UFC Lightweight Championship belt against Nate Diaz, former UFC Light Heavyweight champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua welcomes Swedish phenom Alexander Gustaffson to the elite list, and welterweight contender Mike Swick makes a much-anticipated comeback to the Octagon opposite Matt Brown. More than anything however, we're particularly intrigued by the return of a future UFC Hall of Famer, BJ "The Prodigy" Penn.
We last saw the 33-year-old Penn being battered to near anonymity by Nate Diaz at last year's UFC 137. The former two-division UFC champion famously hinted at retirement after that bout. But with his recent mishaps taking a toll on his legacy (the loss to Diaz was Penn's third in his last five fights), Penn accepted the challenge issued to him by UFC's most promising young welterweight fighter, Canada's Rory MacDonald.
So who is FHM rooting for? Well, MacDonald is 13-1, with 12 of his wins coming via KO or sumission...but we respect the hell out of BJ Penn. Heaven knows how many hours we've spent watching every grappling tutorial on his website. But with the odds again not going his favor, we fear this might be the end of idol BJ. Read on and see what we mean.
1. BJ Penn is obviously not on his prime anymore, and he hasn’t been for a long time now. The last time Penn dominated anyone was on December 2009, when he kicked open challenger Diego Sanchez’s forehead to retain his UFC Lightweight belt via doctor’s stoppage. Three years later and BJ is just a shadow of his 2009 self. His long reign as UFC's version of a People's Champ wasn't even enough to sway the oddsmakers to his favor. Thus, for the first time in a very long time, BJ's coming into his fight with MacDonald as the underdog.
2. Contrary to what Freddie Roach proclaimed a few years back, BJ Penn does not have the finest boxing in mixed martial arts. At least not anymore. Nick Diaz out-boxed Penn at UFC 137, bullying him silly for the last two rounds of that bout. Frankie Edgar also spent a good 10 rounds outstriking him in their two title fights. And however good Penn's step-back jab is, it’s long been a thing of the past.
3. BJ Penn’s iron chin is not about to be conked out by an up-and-comer. As impressive as Rory MacDonald is with his rock-hard knockout victories over the likes of Mike Pyle, Che Mills, and Elmer Waterhen, we believe that Penn would rather throw in the towel than be on the receiving end of a sleep-inducing haymaker. His ego won’t be able to handle it.
4. BJ Penn is not, has never been, and will never be capable of dominating the 170lbs division, regardless of his stint as the UFC Welterweight Champion. The division is now stacked with a very legitimate roster of balls-out contenders who could easily dominate if it wasn’t for the monster of current UFC Welterweight chanp Georges "Rush" St-Pierre. We mean, it's easy to imagine Nick Diaz as UFC champion; Jon Fitch and Carlos Condit, too. The legit list is almost endless. But Penn? Nah.
5. BJ Penn is not going to win the fight if he goes the distance with MacDonald. Six of the eight fights the Hawaiian Penn has lost—to Diaz, Edgar (twice), St-Pierre, Lyoto Machida, and Jens Pulver—went through the judges' decision. He also has two draws in his career, against Jon Fitch and Caol Uno. And all but one of his 16 victories were achieved by stoppages. Simply put, Penn is at his best when he's going for the kill. If his hands and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu are nuetralized by MacDonald, then it might be another long, sad night.
6. Whether he wins or loses this fight, BJ Penn will not be remembered for the string of losses sustained at the end of his career. The man will always be regarded as "The Prodigy"; the first man universally recognized as a true MMA fighter (by that, we mean he was good at almost every fighting dsiscipline). Instead, people will remember the years he dominated the UFC's lightweight and welterweight divisions, much like the way St-Pierre and Anderson "The Spider" Silva is doing now. And for that we offer him the highest amount of respect. Hats off to you, sir.
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