BJ Penn ends his retirement when he steps back inside the Octagon on Sunday night, but Yair Rodriguez is expected to ensure UFC Fight Night Phoenix is not a happy night for ‘The Prodigy’.
This fight has been a long time coming for Penn, who hung up his gloves following a TKO defeat to Frankie Edgar in January 2014. The former two-weight champion announced his intention to return in January 2016 but a string of cancellations have made the 38-year-old wait for his comeback fight.
Legal issues forced the scrapping of a fight last April and a June bout with Dennis Siver was scrapped when the Russian-born fighter suffered an injury in training. Cole Miller stepped in to fill the void but Penn himself was then forced to pull out of the fight after he was flagged for using a medically-administered IV, which is now completely banned. Injury forced Penn out of an October meeting with Ricardo Lamas – which led to the cancellation of the entire card – but unless something dramatic happens he will finally return to action on Sunday night.
BJ Penn in action against Frankie Edgar. (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP/Getty Images)
The question is, will it prove to be a wise decision by Penn? At one time he was one of the finest fighters the sport has ever seen and his list of accolades and his professional record would have been much more impressive had he not bounced around fighting in a bunch of different weight classes that were, quite frankly, too big for him.
Before Conor McGregor was even thinking about becoming UFC champion in two different weight classes at the same time, Penn was attempting to do that by challenging welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre while holding the lightweight title. ‘The Prodigy’ failed in his quest that night and it was not long after that before his career took a major downturn. Five defeats and a draw during a six-fight spell brought the curtain down on his career and it is that last loss that is most troubling.
Frankie Edgar out-struck him 159-60 as he dominated the fight before it was stopped in the third round, and afterwards ‘The Answer’ admitted he ‘almost felt bad’ for Penn. ‘The Prodigy’ looked like a spent fighter on that night and it is hard to see how two-and-a-half years on the shelf will have given him a new lease of life. The bookmakers certainly feel that way with bet365
making Rodriguez a 2/9 favourite and Penn a 7/2 underdog.
Rodriguez has propelled himself into the top 10 by going 5-0 since arriving in the UFC and it feels like this fight is designed to put a big name on his record. The 24-year-old Mexican has only stopped one of his opponents in the UFC so far, but he does possess some violent stand-up and he could become only the fourth man to stop Penn – joining the elite list of Edgar, GSP and Matt Hughes. I am wary of backing that though, because ‘The Prodigy’ is very difficult to stop.
Therefore I suggest backing Over 2.5 Total Rounds at 10/11 with bet365
, because I do not see Rodriguez blitzing through Penn in short order. This fight will either come to an end in the second half of the 30 minute limit or it will go the full distance with Rodriguez getting the nod from the judges. This bet covers for either of those possible outcomes and it will also give you a shot if Penn does somehow turn back the clock in his UFC return. I highly doubt that will happen though.
Back Over 2.5 Total Rounds @ 10/11 bet365