clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

UFC Fight Night 112 fight card: BJ Penn vs Dennis Siver preview

UFC Fight Night: Rodriguez v Penn Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight veterans B.J. Penn and Dennis Siver will square off this Sunday (June 25, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 112 inside Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

It’s sad to say, but at this point it’s becoming obvious that there’s no level of “motivation” that would make Penn a contender. The 38 year old has not won back-to-back fights since his title reign in 2009, and he’s been taking a ton of abuse in the meantime. Meanwhile, Siver’s drop to Featherweight did not return on his title dreams, but it also didn’t see him get mauled twice like his opponent. It’s been a couple years since he fought, but Siver left as a fringe Top 15-ranked athlete.

Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:

BJ Penn
Record: 16-11-2
Key Wins: Matt Hughes (UFC 123, UFC 46), Kenny Florian (UFC 101), Sean Sherk (UFC 84), Diego Sanchez (UFC 107)
Key Losses: Frankie Edgar (UFC 112, 118, TUF 19 Finale), Yair Rodriguez (UFC Fight Night 103), Rory MacDonald (UFC on FOX 5), Nick Diaz (UFC 137)
Keys to Victory: At the height of his game, Penn was a devastating boxer with impossible flexibility, which made him both very difficult to take down and dangerous on the mat. Judging solely by his last two appearances, Penn does not have much in the way of actual skills anymore, so he absolutely must have some kind of return to form here.

Not fully, but any improvement from landing four significant strikes in his last bout would be welcome.

The smart strategy here would be to wrestle. Penn’s conditioning was never amazing at the best of times, which means winning a three round decision at 38 years old will be difficult. Penn needs a finish, which luckily is not an impossible task regarding Dennis Siver, who has been stopped eight times.

Rather than hunt for the knockout against the kickboxer, Penn would be best advised to return to his roots and attempt to land the takedown and back mount. Jiu-Jitsu does not rely on timing or physicality quite as much as other martial arts, meaning it tends to remain dangerous longer as a fighter ages.

It’s his best bet.


Dennis Siver
Record: 23-11
Key Wins: Charles Rosa (UFC Fight Night 53), Diego Nunes (UFC on Fuel TV 2), Manny Gamburyen (UFC 168)
Key Losses: Conor McGregor (UFC Fight Night 59), Cub Swanson (UFC 162), Tatsuya Kawajiri (UFC Fight Night 69)
Keys to Victory: Siver is a compact ball of muscle that occasionally flings out spinning kicks. Over the years, he’s developed an interesting pair of strategies, either trying to pick his foe apart at range or diving forward for power takedowns.

In this bout, Siver should stick with what he knows best and kickbox.

Penn has never been very interested in kicking, meaning that’s a range where Siver can land free strikes. If he kicks — particularly with his lead leg — and circles, Penn will likely have a difficult time getting in range to punch or wrestle.

If Penn is connecting more than Siver would like early on, Siver would be wise to change his approach briefly and wrestle with Penn along the fence. He may not be able to finish the shot, but clinch work is exhaustive work, and the most likely case here is that Penn has a limited gas tank.

If Siver exhausts it early with meaningless wrestling, he’ll be able to dictate the kickboxing without much trouble.

Bottom Line: It may be B.J. Penn’s last stand.

Frankie Edgar is as damn elite as it gets, and Yair Rodriguez is still one of the top prospect in the division. Penn’s losses at Featherweight may have been ugly, but he has not lost to mediocre fighters by any means.

Siver is a more reasonable challenge. If Penn comes up short, it is really, really time to retire. If he does win, however, Penn has a case for more middle-of-the-division match ups, just don’t listen to him when he starts calling for a title shot or fourth bout with Frankie Edgar.

This bout is pivotal to Siver’s career as well, as coming off a two year layoff and becoming BJ Penn’s first win in seven years would be a tremendously bad look. It would also put him at risk of being released thanks to a trio of losses. Alternatively, a win earns him some breathing room and sets him back up to keep the gate at 145 pounds.

At UFC Fight Night 112, BJ Penn and Dennis Siver will go to war and open the main card. Which veteran will have his hand raised?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Mania Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Mania