Rodriguez Steamrolls B.J. Penn in Phoenix
No sport is more brutal to its elders than the fight game. B.J. Penn’s comeback was short-lived, as he was thoroughly battered by Yair Rodriguez in Phoenix on Sunday night. After absorbing substantial damage in the first round, Penn was stopped just 24 seconds into the second round.
It was Penn’s first fight in almost three years, and he looked every bit of 38 years old against the 24-year-old Rodriguez.
The flashy Mexican striker landed his trademark high kicks at will against Penn, and the former lightweight and welterweight champion was staggered multiple times in the first round. Some were calling for Penn’s corner to throw in the towel ahead of round two, but he returned to the center of the Octagon where he was promptly dropped and swarmed by Rodriguez.
Though much of the headlines will focus on Penn’s decision to continue returning to a game that has passed him by, nothing can be taken from the performance of Rodriguez (10-1). He put on the dominant masterclass that he needed to prove that he continues to be the most promising young star in the featherweight division.
“This is an amazing fight for me I fought a legend tonight,” Rodriguez said the fight. “He deserves a lot of respect, I want to say thank you so much to BJ Penn for the fight.”
Penn did not speak after the fight so his future remains unclear. He has lost four in a row dating back to a 2011 loss to Nick Diaz, and he has sustained great damage in all four of those defeats. His last win came in 2010 against Matt Hughes.
In the co-main event, Joe Lauzon won a controversial split decision over Marcin Held. One judge awarded Held all three rounds while the other two gave the win to Lauzon, despite most media members scoring the fight for Held. Lauzon himself admitted that he did not deserve the victory.