MMA royalty returns to the octagon in the form of B.J Penn and he’s been given no easy task on his return having to face the young & dangerous Yair Rodriguez.
The last time we saw Penn in action was in July of 2014 against Frankie Edgar in what was the third fight between the two & Penn’s third loss to Edgar. Rodriguez had two outings in 2016 first against Andre Fili a fight that ended with a highlight reel flying head kick knockout earning Yair a performance of the night award, Secondly against Alex Caceres which pitted two of the featherweight divisions hot prospects against one another. Rodriguez picked up a split decision in a competitive fight and another bonus cheque as the bout was recognized as fight of the night.
The B.J Penn at the prime of his career ranks up aside any of the great mma fighters from the past and present, one has to wonder though how long until Penn can no longer hold off father time. Penn has been known to have dietary discipline issues as well as going up and down in weight to compete all throughout his career, an accumulation of all these things puts miles on the clock. Recently Penn has spent some time at Jackson-Winkeljohn gym, home to some of the best fighters the sport has to offer a move which Penn could have done with a few years earlier perhaps but nonetheless the time spent there may have helped him rediscover some lost passion for the arts. If even 75% of the old B.J Penn turns up Rodriguez will have some serious questions to answer but if the Penn that looked overweight and under trained against MacDonald and Nick Diaz turns up, or the one that fought Edgar with a peculiar unconventional looking stance we could see an unfortunate end to the Prodigy’s career.
Potential standout fight
Joe Lauzon vs Marcin Held
Joe Lauzon has up to now received no less than seven fight of the night awards certainly no stranger to a good old fashioned scrap, Lauzon also has a very slick grappling game which sometimes goes unnoticed due to his willingness to stand. Marcin Held is a BJJ black belt and has 12 submissions out of his 22 wins if this fight hits the mat we could see some very intriguing grappling exchanges.
Fighter to watch
A win does wonders for Rodriguez’s star power & propels him from future prospect to a legit threat to the featherweight division possibly entertaining fights with well known names at 145lbs, Barao, Doo Ho Choi, Stephens, Ortega, Oliveira maybe even the winner of Bermudez vs Korean Zombie which takes place a few weeks after this card. Any of these names could be a viable option in the latter part of 2017 however Yair must get the W to further fuel his ascension to the title.