One of MMA's great old school fighters took on a young gun on the rise as B.J. Penn returned from retirement last night (Dec. 8, 2012) to take on elite prospect Rory MacDonald in a welterweight contest on the UFC on Fox 5 main card in Seattle, Washington.
Penn had come out of retirement after over a year away from the cage to take on "Ares" in an effort to restore what he felt was his fading legacy. But after just two minutes, it seemed he had bit off more than he could chew by once again showing up undersized against one of the scariest young welterweights on the planet.
Early on, Penn looked to utilize some of his wrestling similar to his fight against Jon Fitch. "The Prodigy" had MacDonald pressed against the fence but he couldn't put him down and from that point on, the fight started to get ugly.
MacDonald hit Penn with a wide variety of strikes, from leg kicks, to front kicks to jabs, elbows and knees. He was launching so many attacks that even B.J. Penn in his prime may have had issues handling them.
But Penn near the end of his career? He stood no chance.
It started with a short left elbow that Penn didn't see coming near the end of the first round, wobbling the Hawaiian for one of the first times in his career.
By the second round, Penn had slowed down considerably and unfortunately for his multitude of fans, he turned into a human punching bag. At no point was this more evident than the midway point of the fight where MacDonald again finished a combination with a picture perfect left hook to the body. This folded Penn in half and referee Herb Dean immediately got into position to end the fight if it got any worse, but Penn held it together and survived.
After a brief last gasp of effort at the beginning of the third round, Penn had nothing left to give. MacDonald took it easy on him by taking him down and throwing some punches and elbows, but it wasn't pretty as he shuffled his feet in the stand-up which drew the ire of the fans in attendance.
When it was all said and done, it was just a matter of how dominant the scorecards would look, it wasn't a question of who won. MacDonald was clearly the better man last night.
For B.J. Penn, he said he wanted to return his name to the whispers of the best ever, but I just don't understand his stubbornness. If he really wanted to be the best ever, he'd fight at 155. He has nothing to prove at 170 pounds and the man who had taken his title isn't even in the division anymore at lightweight. He was outclassed by a younger, more explosive, more powerful, bigger and stronger fighter last night. Hands down.
At least in previous fights, he'd won the first round of bouts he'd go on to lose or draw, but this one was a starching from start to finish. Penn has now been battered badly in the last five rounds he's fought in the UFC. While many of us were hoping he would come back after his last retirement announcement, it seems he would have been better off had he simply stayed away. If his speed isn't there at 170, it certainly won't be there at 155. It's time to retire B.J. You have nothing left to prove.
For Rory MacDonald, this was one of the most impressive performances of his young career. "Ares" dominated from the opening seconds all the way to the final horn and it was primarily due to his significant improvement in his striking. He has taken the leap from a fighter who could take people down and really destroy them on the canvas to a complete mixed martial artist. He was hitting Penn with shots from all sorts of angles and "The Prodigy" had no hope to defend them all. It was a constant onslaught of punches, elbows and kicks and he even broke through Penn's vaunted takedown defense for good measure. He was so much bigger, stronger and faster than Penn in the cage last night and he made good use of his physical advantages.
Next up for MacDonald would likely be Carlos Condit. The UFC loves it when fighters call out opponents. It makes their job easier and builds buzz for a fight and MacDonald made it clear that's who he wants next. Other potential opponents for "Ares" include Jake Ellenberger or perhaps the upcoming Demian Maia vs. Jon Fitch winner.
So what did you think, Maniacs?
Is this the last time we'll see B.J. Penn in the UFC? Do you hope that's the case? What did you think of MacDonald's shuffling in the second and third rounds?
For complete UFC on Fox 5 results, including blow-by-blow, fight-by-fight coverage of the entire event as well as immediate post-fight reaction click here, here and here.