B.J. Penn makes his long awaited UFC return on January 15th when he faces former TUF Latin America winner Yair Rodriguez in a five round featherweight bout that will serve as the main event of UFC Fight Night 103 at the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

Take Four

The former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion Penn hasn’t fought in two years and his return to the octagon has been postponed on several occasions. Penn was originally slated to face Denis Siver at UFC 196 (then 197) , Cole Miller at UFC 199 and then Ricardo Lamas at UFC Fight Night Manila.

But those bouts didn’t push thru for one reason or another, leaving Penn’s latest comeback attempt in question. The most recent of those, against Lamas, was cancelled after Penn suffered a rib injury. But with Penn now 100% healthy, the Prodigy is finally set to return to the sport where he became a legend.

Unbeaten Prospect

Yair Rodriguez is one of the up and coming fighters in the featherweight division. After winning The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America featherweight tournament in 2014, Pantera has racked up four straight victories to rise to #10 in the rankings. In his most recent outing, Rodriguez headlined UFC Fight Night 92. There, he came up with his biggest UFC win, a five round decision win over fellow prospect Alex Caceres. Against Penn, Yair will not only be headlining his second event, he will be facing the first legitimate superstar in his young UFC career.

Past His Prime

There is no doubt that B.J. Penn is already past his prime at age 38. Penn hasn’t won since knocking out Matt Hughes at UFC 123 in 2010. Since then, he’s fought just four times, losing thrice and figuring in a draw once. Penn’s last fight was in 2014, when he got knocked out by Frankie Edgar during the TUF 19 Finale. After that fight, Penn announced his retirement, again. A year later, he announced his intention to return by starting to work with Greg Jackson at the Jackson Wink MMA in New Mexico. However, it remains to be seen what is left of Penn, if anything.

Winnable, Though

Despite the obvious downside, this is a winnable fight for B.J. Penn. Yair Rodriguez isn’t heavy handed and we saw that against Alex Caceres. He only has two KOs in 8 MMA wins. He isn’t also excellent in any particular discipline. He doesn’t have great boxing or wrestling and that leaves an opportunity for Penn to beat him. However, Rodriguez has great pace and cardio. He pushes his unorthodox attack with voluminous kicks. It’s in these that Penn may not be able to keep up with. Most likely, this will be the scenario. While Rodriguez may not have the pop to knock out B.J. Penn, he does have the pace to outstrike him for five rounds. Our pick here? Yair Rodriguez by unanimous decision.

Related Articles
Leave Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *