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B.J. Penn agrees to return to the ring against Rory MacDonald

Its official – B.J. Penn is back!

Though no specific date has been confirmed for the return of the reluctantly retired former UFC champion, “The Prodigy” is indeed poised to fight again after accepting the challenge of rising welterweight Rory MacDonald. The 22-year old Canadian brought Penn’s name up earlier this week in an interview on The MMA Hour, showing respect for the surefire Hall of Famer laced with his desire to face a legend.

Penn expressed his willingness to take the tilt in a single-sentence post on his website. It was also said the bout could take place on September 22 at UFC 152 in Toronto.

MacDonald, who is seen as one of the division’s top contenders, is 13-1 thus far in his career including a trio of wins in his last three outings. He has finished twelve of the opponents he’s beaten with the lone exception involving a three-round drumming of Nate Diaz in April 2011.

The 16-8 Penn has not necessarily fared well at 170 pounds in his career minus his memorable championship win over Matt Hughes. However, his reputation as one of the sports true greats is well-earned given the technical mastery and toughness he’s shown in his career, even in defeat, as well as his past success against the likes of Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian, Diego Sanchez, Matt Serra, Takanori Gomi, and Renzo Gracie.

Prior to this week’s developments Penn had stated his satisfaction with the decision to take time off on multiple occasions, even turning down a recently offered clash with Josh Koscheck.


  • Rece Rock says:

    Hey Kos & Melendez you guys just don’t rate in BJ Penn’s world…
    I’m a fan of both Rory & BJ… so I just want it to be a great fight.

    In the long run, I really want to see Condit / MacDonald rematch.

  • Lord Faust says:

    Wow, BJ’s certainly not taking an easy fight. I am already excited to see this.

  • joe mo mma says:

    I wouldve liked seeing BJ at lightweight instead.. there are plenty of good fights that he can take there… Pettis, Cowboy, Nate, Miller… making a run at the title at lightweight seems a little more plausible to me for some reason.

    As a welterweight, he’s got a huge challenge in McDonald. Pretty much a do or die fight here. Im a huge Penn fan so I hope he does well

  • Richard Stabone says:

    I’m with Joe… a matchup with someone like Pettis, Cowboy or Nate would’ve made a lot more sense to me than Rory at 170.

    The problem with LW is that It’s already been about 2 years since BJ last made the cut to 155 (and Frankie ran circles around him). And now he’s been on the sidelines–“retired”–for the past several months, so he’s probably at a point in his career where putting in the work to drop the weight *and* maintain high level strength/cardio is just not feasible for him.

    But at 170… jeez, Rory is a beast. For me, this is BJ’s most difficult fight at 170 of his entire career. His only WW victory that would compare happened almost 8 years ago. I’ve always liked watching him fight but I’m afraid he would have been better off staying retired. I don’t see this fight ending well for BJ.

  • Richard Stabone says:

    BJ vs. Melendez would be my ideal matchup… but Gil is stuck in SF and (as mentioned above) I have serious doubts where another effective drop to LW is possible for BJ. A prime BJ would work Gil over, but in the here & now it just doesn’t work.

  • hindsightufuk says:

    i love BJ, he’d rank amongst my top few favorite fighters ever to compete, i really hope he comes prepared and puts on a good show. man this is good news

  • Screenplaya says:

    BJ needs to get with the times and accept that he should be fighting people his own size. Unless he cracks Rory’s chin, I suspect we will be watching the final retirement fight for BJ. It is entirely possible that he will be so dominated physically that he gives up for real and forever.

    On the bright side, maybe seeing an icon suplexed into oblivion will finally get the ball rolling on reforms that will put an end to weight-cutting, and therefore, size mismatches.

  • MCM says:

    I wonder if he took this fight because of the way Rory asked for it? Politely, instead of trying to call him out. I also don’t see how BJ wins this one. Rory is not a giant WW, but he’s gonna look huge compared to BJ, and Penn doesn’t fair too well against bigger, stronger fighters with really good wrestling.
    Penn has always had the skills, but never shown his bottom game much in the cage, and that’s where he’ll spend most of his time in this fight.

  • fitfreak says:

    Rory stated two days ago that he was close to 200lbs. I was hoping that Penn would return to LW.

  • well there’s no easy way to say this, Penn is in a world of trouble.

    As far as this goes this is going to once again give Rory an unjustified surge toward the top of the division. This kid can fight and hes only had one loss that he would’ve won(due to poor judging criteria IMO) but nontheless he’s exciting and talented, now can he start fighting the best the division has to offer instead of beating up Mike Pyle, Che Mills Nate Diaz(who is one of my favorites but just isnt big enough to contend at 170) and now a legend who’s got a losing record in the division?
    Please, I just want to see this kid move towards the top and not flounder around fighting midcarders while everyone touts him as the next big thing in the division..

  • moosebaby02 says:

    I agree with all of you who state the fact that this fight has all the looks of BJ going right back into retirement and this fight makes no sense at all except the fact that Rory is a GSP student and a win will be some kinda personal revenge or so?wwme kind of way too taunt GSP back into the cage one more time by saying “hey I beat your boy now its your turn”. BJ has always made it clear their last tilt left a sour taste in his mouth. But this is just a really a bad match up

  • Mad_Hatter_XX says:

    The decision to fight a young, hungry, up and comer with a strong wrestling base in a division that you are too small to compete in, is baffling.

    BJ is a small WW and I see him getting tossed around. There is always the chance that he finds a submission on the ground but, it could be a long night.

    A fight with Kos would have been much more winnable and evenly matched. Kos is a better wrestler but, he doesn’t usually use it to dominate and would likley have gladly stood and thrown leather.

    I think Rory is playing to BJ’s ego by calling him a legend and treating him with reverence, where Kos was s usual brash self. I just don’t like this fight for BJ and think he might just be dominated back into retirement.


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