The UFC on Fox 5 media call was held this afternoon featuring Dana White, Eric Shanks and five of the top six fighters on the stacked December 8th card from Seattle. Alex Gustafsson was unable to make the call, but it didn't matter as most media questions were directed at returning legend BJ Penn.
Penn is making a much-anticipated return to the Octagon against rising star Rory MacDonald. After losing to Nick Diaz over one year ago, Penn hinted at retirement. The opportunity to fight MacDonald brought him back.
Here are some comments from Penn taken from the conference call:
"I can't sit around, I should do this while I can. Rory is one of the top guys so to fight him is a good one for me. Team Tristar is a great team. This is a great fight all around for me."
"I really expect a lot of myself on Dec 8th. I got together with my former training team and we took my belly off. The best thing for me was the fight being postponed. Rory said he saw me and I looked fat. That he is gonna kill me in the cage and that really lit a fire under me. I expect the best BJ Penn we have ever seen."
The young Canadian, MacDonald, has thrown a lot of disrespect towards Penn leading up to the fight. Penn has also thrown out allegations of Rory using performance-enhancing drugs. Penn refused to get into that too much today.:
"I'm not gonna sit here and get into that. I'm not gonna point fingers. Doping is a pain staking thing for the UFC. I'm not saying Rory you do steroids. I'm just trying to cover myself and look out for my own butt and make sure things are fair."
Penn was asked his opinion on superfights, and he had glowing praise for president Dana White:
"Superfights are great. It causes a lot of hype and Dana knows that. It's awesome. it's what this sport is about getting the two best fighters in the world in the ring. He doesn't allow Mayweather-Pacquiao situations, Dana White is the man."
Penn has been in the fight game a long time and has faced the best of the best. Why does a fight with someone as UFC green as Rory MacDonald interest him? Have MacDonald's comments given him extra motivation?
"Fighting is not a sport for me. It's still a fight for me. I go into the fight and I just love it when my opponent says things like that. It's all wonderful I couldn't ask for anything more."
MMA Heat's Karyn Bryant asked BJ if he concerns himself with his legacy. "I was telling Dana, I watch all these interviews. No one says my name in the greatest fighters anymore and it's my fault. I told Dana I have a real problem with that."
What about the people who do mention him in the best of the best all time? "I want to thank all those people even Benson Henderson always gives me props. I want to be known as one of the best. I have some things left to accomplish."
The call ended with a question about the GSP-Silva superfight. Penn was asked if he agrees with how GSP is handling it. Penn was soft in his response. "That fight is for George. I don't want to say much on that. Everybody on this call knows what BJ would do."
We do know what Penn would do and that is why he is one of the best of all time.
Like GSP against Penn last time, and like Silva against GSP in the future superfight, MacDonald will have a huge size advantage over Penn come December 8th. Penn simply doesn't care and will risk it.
That is what sets him apart.
Dwight Wakabayashi is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report MMA and guest blogger for Sportsnet.ca UFC. Unless otherwise noted, all quotes were obtained firsthand.
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