BJ Penn returns to headline UFC Fight Night in Phoenix against El Pantera.
It has been announced that the former two weight champion and UFC hall of famer BJ Penn will make his return to headline UFC Fight Night in Phoenix. This may come as a surprise to some UFC fans given that BJ’s last two fights were cancelled and Dana White has recently stated he would not let Jon Jones headline again for the same reason. However this is not a pay per view event and as UFC Belfast showed us, headliners can be replaced successfully if needed.
I don’t want to take anything away from BJ Penn’s credentials, he is a killer and has achieved more than possibly any other fighter in history inside the octagon. This is a man that has submitted and TKOed Matt Hughes, is one of only two people to finish Sean Sherk and set the record for the most UFC Lightweight title defences in history. These are not the feats of an average fighter and he should be respected as a legend of the sport.
Should he continue to fight? I don’t think so.
He has won just one of his last seven fights including being TKOed in very dominant fashion in his last bout. He has not fought for two years and at 37 years old coming off the back of some pretty tame performances by his standards the odds do not stack up well for him. I would bet against BJ fighting any of the top 10 Featherweight fighters but he isn’t fighting a top 10 fighter, he’s fighting #11 and this is bad news for BJ.
Yair “El Pantera” Rodriguez is one of the hottest prospects in the Featherweight division. A Taekwondo style fighter showcasing some of the most spectacular kicks in the UFC, Yair is touted by many to be a potential title contender in the near future. Since winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America he has racked up a series of impressive wins with a current professional undefeated UFC record of 5-0. As well as his incredible kicking ability, Yair has a cool head in the octagon, great movement and he is no slouch at jiu-jitsu and winning scrambles. His flying kick to knock out Andre Fili was outstanding and his last bout, a split decision against Alex Caceres, was a very entertaining stand up war between two accomplished strikers earning them Fight of the Night bonuses.
BJ Penn has looked a shadow of his former self in his last few fights. He looks slower, he isn’t moving well and frankly, he looked like a sitting duck against Macdonald and Edgar. El Pantera on the other hand will bounce around the octagon throwing a multitude of strikes from all angles. BJ is tough and a real warrior but I predict a round 2 TKO for El Pantera.
This is assuming the fight actually happens, based on recent history there is a very real chance BJ may not make it to the event – lucky for him if this is the case.
I truly think it’s time for BJ to hang up his MMA gloves. Gone are the days when he was King of the Octagon, he has become a gatekeeper, giving talented prospects like Yair Rodriguez to shine against a big name and earn the UFC more PPVs in the future. Really though is it worth putting a sad end to the legacy of BJ Penn, a man who has helped take the organisation so far… Give the man a cheque, a comfy seat outside the octagon and a fat cuban – he’s earned it.