The last time we saw UFC star BJ Penn in the Octagon, he retired immediately after his match with Nick Diaz where he was systematically beaten down. Penn, considered a UFC legend, had fought well but was obviously feeling a lot of pressure and needed some time. Well, young upstart Rory Macdonald mentioned Penn’s name as a possible opponent, and that was apparently enough for the legend from Hawaii to dust off the old bones and return for at least one more fight. One big factor in this fight will be whether it is a 3 round or a 5 round fight, however Penn is not returning for an easy fight.
The match is slated for Toronto’s UFC 152, on September 22nd, 2012 as a co-main event with the Junior Dos Santos-Cain Velasquez heavyweight tilt.
Penn, because of his payscale, has been in tough fights throughout his career, and he is basically 1-3-1 in his last five appearances. He has never solved his biggest problem, which has been conditioning as he has continued to tire during longer fights. This would really seem to be a big negative against a young, strong, well conditioned Macdonald.
Penn is going to have to catch Macdonald in the first round, it really seems to be his only out. For all his vaunted Jiu Jitsu, Penn has been able to gt to the back of a lot of opponents in MMA, and that is where he is most dangerous.
Macdonald is young and hungry, and the way the schedule works, the match is still roughly three months away. The young Macdonald is definitely faicng one of the most skilled opponents on his resume in Penn, but he will come in with a game plan. He is going to be bigger and stronger than Penn, and basically has to overcome an early rush and then avoid a submission.
Aside from his owning Matt Hughes, who is a legend, Penn has never seemed at home at 170 lbs, with a good deal of his best work taking place at the 155 lb weight class. Against Macdonald he is facing a bigger, longer opponent, and as the match wears on, Penn is almost certain to show the effects of Macdonald’s pressure. Penn is no longer the prodigy, he is more like old man river and he isnt going to change.
My money is on Macdonald, for either a late stoppage or a decision win as he continues his climb up the rankings. After this, I would like to see Macdonald face a ‘in need of a bounce back fight’ Jake Ellenberger. That would have been a better fight now.