One of the greatest fighters in the history of MMA is coming back. Former UFC champion BJ Penn is ending his hiatus and will be returning to the octagon. Penn has verbally agreed to an upcoming fight and will return to action at welterweight.
Penn has accepted a challenge from young UFC welterweight star Rory MacDonald. MacDonald laid out the challenge on the MMA Hour. This is the second challenge thrown at Penn in the last few weeks, Josh Koscheck being the other. Unlike the Koscheck fight, Penn has responded on his website with a “yes!”
“Rory, I accept your challenge!”
Now all that is left is to get the UFC on board and put “Penn” to paper.”
It is interesting to me that Penn accepted this challenge and not Koscheck’s (or a proposed Gilbert Melendez fight a few months back). Both Koscheck and Melendez are much better draws against Penn than MacDonald. Not too many people outside the hardcore MMA fan base know or care about MacDonald. The other and most important factor is that I think of the three, MacDonald presents the toughest fight to Penn. I would have easily picked him against Kos, possibly picked him against Melendez, but will likely pick against him in this one.
BJ Penn announced a long break or retirement after losing to Nick Diaz last year. Right or wrong, nobody took Penn’s retirement seriously. Penn’s name has come up in potential fights over the last few months as if he was still a full time fighter. Koscheck recently revealed that the UFC asked him to “stir it up” in hopes of drawing Penn out of retirement. Maybe he should have taken a more polite approach like MacDonald?
This fight could present a huge headache to Dana White. MacDonald trains with champion Georges St-Pierre and the two are reportedly good friends. I would be really surprised if MacDonald were to challenge GSP if given the opportunity due to their relationship. I am sure the UFC could withhold that title opportunity under the conditions that MacDonald gets one more win. If that happens, we could have a potential Jon Fitch vs. Josh Koscheck on our hands once again.
A win by Penn would make a fantastic story and set up a potential fight with GSP. Penn beating the young, upstart would immediately establish his credibility as a UFC welterweight title contender. Throw in the storyline of Penn defeating GSP’s protege and you have the makings a nice grudge match for 2013.