It will be 14 months since "Baby J" called it quits after his loss at the busy hands of Stockton slugger Nick Diaz way back at UFC 137 in October 2011. Many have tried to bait Penn to come back to the Octagon, but, only "Ares" was successful, luring "The Prodigy" off the comfort of his couch and back into the rigors of a training room.
"Kos" and "El Nino" aren't trained by Firas Zahabi over at Tri-Star Gym in Canada, who, coincidentally enough, also spearheads Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight king Georges St. Pierre's training camps, as well. A man Penn is all too familiar with, having lost twice to the French-Canadian.
Not that there's any bad blood between Penn and Firas or St. Pierre, or Tri-Star Gym for that matter. Penn simply wants to prove to his old rivals he has ‘more to show them.' On top of that, he gets to fight a "top" guy in Rory.
The Hawaiian had this to say to BJPenn.com:
"I wanted to have another match against Tri-Star and head coach Firas Zahabi and it's not being done because of any bad blood. I feel like I have more to show them and without a doubt Rory has a lot of hype surrounding him. I can see why, he's done great so far. He's in great condition, he can kick, punch, he can wrestle and he knows how to fight on the ground. Everyone is saying he's going to be one of the top guys and those are the guys I like to fight. It works out two ways for me; I get to face a really good opponent and I get to compete against Firas again."
Two birds, one stone.
McDonald is coming off a two round drubbing of Che Mills back at UFC 145 earlier this year. A win would mark his fourth straight since suffering his first and only loss in his mixed martial arts (MMA) career at the hands of former 170-pound interim champion, Carlos Condit.
On the flip side...
A loss for Penn would mark his fourth in six bouts, and would put a huge damper on his comeback trail. A win for the Hawaiian, however, would not only show the MMA world he still has plenty of gas left in the tank, but will get him some sort of revenge on his friendly rivals up north.
What chances are you giving Penn against the second coming of "GSP?"