Rodriguez-Penn Booked for UFC Phoenix
B.J. Penn is apparently not finished chasing a comeback to the Octagon.
After a 2016 in which the Hawaiian legend had been scheduled for three different events and was pulled from all of them, Penn is now scheduled to fight Yair Rodriguez on Jan. 16 in Phoenix. The UFC announced the fight on Monday.
Penn (16-10-2) last fought in 2014 in a brutal loss to Frankie Edgar. He retired after the bout, but last year he attempted to return to the Octagon. He was scheduled to fight Dennis Siver at UFC 196 and then UFC 197, then Cole Miller at UFC 199, then Ricardo Lamas at a Fight Night card in Manila. All of those bouts were scrapped, and Penn’s rib injury ahead of the Lamas fight forced the entire Manila card to be cancelled.
If he can make it to Jan. 16, Penn will face Yair Rodriguez in a curious bit of matchmaking. Rodriguez (8-1) is 24 years old to Penn’s 37, and has been touted as one of the brightest prospects in the UFC’s featherweight division. Penn has not won a fight since 2010 and showed that he was a significantly diminished fighter in last few fights.
The former lightweight champion looks to be getting thrown to the wolves against Rodriguez, but Penn expressed the desire to make a true title run at featherweight. Being the first fighter to defeat Rodriguez in the Octagon would be a spectacular comeback story for "The Prodigy", but it appears to be a less likely outcome than Penn defeating Siver or Miller.
Regardless, barring any more late pullouts, we are poised to see the full extent of whatever fighting ability remains in B.J. Penn come 2017.