Former UFC champion and pound-for-pound contender B.J. Penn will return to the Octagon this December 8, where he will take on rising welterweight star Rory MacDonald at the UFC's fifth installment of its FOX series.
The bout signifies Penn's first action since October 29, 2011—the date he entered into a short-lived retirement.
"The Prodigy" recently spoke with BJPenn.com about his impending match with MacDonald, catching everyone up on his training process and speaking about his developing motivation.
Training is coming along, I couldn’t be happier with how everything is going. I’m in the gym trying to put in my time and I've used the last few months to get into shape. I think it was a blessing that the fight got pushed back [from UFC 152]. I’ve had more time to train and I've been able to work out more. We’re giving it an honest effort and we’ll see how everything works out.
Training has always been something of an issue for Penn, who has long been chastised by fans and media alike over coasting into bouts. The Hawaiian has put together an impressive career, but most believe his peak would have been higher had he adhered to a stricter regimen and built his fighting endurance more intensely.
Because he is coming off such an extensive layoff, Penn's cardio will likely (once again) be a hot topic heading into UFC on FOX 5.
During the interview, Penn also noted his zealousness to take on a member of Montreal's fabled Tri-Star gym.
I wanted to have another match against Tri-Star and head coach Firas Zahabi, and it’s not being done because of any bad blood. I feel like I have more to show them and without a doubt Rory has a lot of hype surrounding him.
Penn went on to talk about MacDonald, lauding his skills and supporting the burgeoning theory that the youngster has a bright future ahead of him.
He’s in great condition, he can kick, punch, he can wrestle and he knows how to fight on the ground. Everyone is saying he’s going to be one of the top guys and those are the guys I like to fight. It works out two ways for me; I get to face a really good opponent and I get to compete against Firas again.
MacDonald will enter the contest riding a three-fight win streak, while Penn has grasped victory just one time over his past five bouts.
UFC on FOX 5 will go from the Key Arena in Seattle, Washington.