UFC on Fox 5: Don't Expect Too Much from Aging BJ Penn

McKinley NobleCorrespondent INovember 27, 2012

BJ Penn says that he's got his fire back. Don't believe it 'til you see it.
BJ Penn says that he's got his fire back. Don't believe it 'til you see it.Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

It's hard to believe BJ Penn when he says that he's rediscovered "that old fire" for his upcoming UFC on Fox 5 match against Rory MacDonald.

For what it's worth, he sounded ready to fight on today's media call, promising to put on a show.

And sure, we've all seen that Thanksgiving video of a fit-looking Penn shadowboxing in his front yard, flexing his abs for legions of still-faithful fans.

But at the end of the day, that doesn't really mean anything.

Oh, golly gee! BJ Penn sure looks shredded for his next fight! That's...common.

At least, it would be common for any UFC fighter not named BJ Penn.

But over the years, we've grown accustomed to seeing "The Prodigy" turn up for welterweight fights looking soft and undercut. Even Penn himself noted it, saying that he trained extra hard after MacDonald called him out on his pudgy physique.

Now, Penn looks like he got in shape for a 170-pound fight. Hooray. That's what he should've been doing all along.

Giving "The Prodigy" credit for getting fit is like praising a morbidly obese person for drinking diet sodas. It's really just a minor step toward solving the much bigger problem at hand.

Is Penn still going to gas out halfway through the fight?

Is he going to mentally quit if Rory Mac turns up the pressure?

Those are the far more interesting questions we won't get answers to until Dec. 8. But given Penn's track record, it really won't be much of a shock to see him turn in a half-hearted performance during the Fox main card.

Don't get me wrong—it would be amazing if the UFC legend was able to dominate MacDonald, licking blood off his gloves and taunting a broken, defeated opponent.

But that's unlikely to happen.

Every good fighter has an opponent that breaks him. Jon Jones broke Brandon Vera. Cain Velasquez broke Brock Lesnar. Gabriel Gonzaga broke Mirko Cro Cop.

And I believe that Frankie Edgar broke BJ Penn.

Nearly every time Penn has been on the ropes and forced to dig deep for a win, he had nothing more to give. He didn't have enough fire to beat Georges St-Pierre or Jon Fitch. He didn't have the will to beat Nick Diaz. And it's hard to expect anything different when he faces Rory MacDonald.

McKinley Noble is an MMA conspiracy theorist and FightFans Radio writer. His work has appeared in GamePro, Macworld and PC World. Talk with him on Twitter.