All it took was one respectful call out from one of the fastest rising and most talented 170-pound fighters today to get former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight and Welterweight champion B.J. Penn to cut his retirement short.
Earlier this week, Rory MacDonald expressed his desire to go toe-to-toe against ‘The Prodigy' before he draws the curtain on his legendary mixed martial arts (MMA) career forever. A few days later, Penn accepted the challenge of the 22-year old Canadian.
Though UFC officials have yet to confirm whether or not this bout will become a reality, MacDonald has stated that he would like the fight to go down at UFC 152 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on Sept. 22, 2012. And "Baby J", for one, is ready to rock with the request.
But, what was the reasoning behind his decision to end his retirement and accept a fight against MacDonald?
Penn appeared on today's (June 7, 2012) episode of "Just Scrap Radio" to explain that he is not attempting a full scale comeback to make one final run at a title, he simply stated that he wants to finish out his contract with the UFC and MacDonald would be a good test. He also went on to say that he wants to prove to the Tri-Star camp that he is not the same fighter that Georges St. Pierre fought against at UFC 94, three year ago.
Check it out:
"My last fight against Tri-Star didn't go so well, so I would love to take another crack at Tri-Star to show them. But you know what, the past is the past. There is nothing for me to really talk about on that end that is definitely left in the past. But, yeah, it would be nice to let them know that fight was a fluke and that the fight is not going to go down the same way. Rory is not just going to walk in there and take me out and beat me up for four rounds straight and put me away. I really believe the fight is going to go different and I think they are going to realize that when we start fighting. This isn't the same guy that they fought that night and its going to be a whole different thing. But, there is no bad blood. I see Firaz all the time, I see Georges. Everything is in the past, but I'd like to get up there and show Tri-Star gym and their fans, or whatever, that I am a worthy opponent and that I am not just a guy that is going to walk in the ring and somebody is just going to walk across and crush me, that is not going to be the story."
"The Prodigy" gave his thoughts on "Ares," as well as cleared up the fact that he is not launching another run at the title, but simply wants to honor his UFC contract, which has one more fight left on it:
"Rory is very good, he is still young but I think he has been in the game so long and he's got a lot of miles on him, I think, not miles to where he is worn down or anything, I Just think he's got a lot of experience for being so young. He has been at a high level for a couple of years now and he is a great test. I was actually watching a video of his yesterday and he was saying, "I am 22 and at 24 I am going to be a world champion." So he is very good, he has got a lot of confidence, I am sure his team has a lot of confidence in him, also, so I think that this is definitely a great challenge and a great test. So with that said, I like everything, I am definitely motivated for this fight, I like everything that's going on with this fight. Rory is one of the best guys, Firaz and everyone says he is going to be the champion in two years. I'm not thinking about any kind of title runs. I'm just coming back and doing this fight and I am pretty sure this is the last fight on my contract, I will have to go back and check again, but I think this is the last fight on my contract and I would like to finish out my contract, so."
When asked if he would prefer to wait for a possible UFC Hawaii event to fight at, the proud Big Island boy simply stated:
"I am going to go to the belly of the beast, I just want to over there and take care of this. I am going to go to the belly of the beast and see a fire breathing dragon and take out my sword."
In the "Bring B.J. Penn out of retirement" sweepstakes, which included participants Josh Koscheck -- who insists the UFC asked him to "stir something up" with the Hawaiian -- and the Strikeforce Lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, to which Penn thought of as a downgrade, MacDonald proved to be enticing enough to get Penn off of the couch and back into the Octagon.
But, is it a risky move taking on such a young and skilled competitor? Or will a motivated Penn who is determined to go out on top be too much for Rory to handle?