When BJ Penn first took the fight against Rory MacDonald, people had many questions. The first thing was why he would want to face a guy who is supposedly a bad matchup.
What some fans don’t understand is that BJ Penn is different than the modern-day fighter. BJ has a drive to want to challenge himself against the very best in the business. Rory MacDonald is revered as the top prospect at 170 pounds. The way he rag-dolled Nate Diaz to the lightweight division is a stark reminder of his physical advantages. Penn enjoys that.
Whereas the question about Penn has always been his motivation, I personally believe it’s been his super self-confidence that has gotten him in trouble more than anything. I feel as if he challenges himself too much. With a record at 11-3-1 as a lightweight, The Prodigy dominated a weight class that he walked around just 13 pounds over. Then he wanted a new challenge.
He decided to test himself against top competition at both welterweight and middleweight, even facing a 220-pound undefeated Lyoto Machida.
He must have heard that saying about how it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. Unfortunately for BJ, when it comes to MMA, the size of the fighter does make a difference, as he’s 5-5-1 in fights above lightweight. When you look at who he’s faced and lost against in larger weight classes, it’s a who’s who of MMA:
- Matt Hughes
- Georges St-Pierre (twice)
- Nick Diaz
- Lyoto Machida
Most fighters would tuck their tales and head back to the lightweight division in a heartbeat. BJ chose to stay because he feels as if he has something to prove to himself.
A win against Ares is like a trip to the fountain of youth. It will prove that he still has it. It’ll prove that against the new multi-talented “prodigy,” he’s still got what it takes. That he’s still one of the best.
Many people will say that if he’s in shape and motivated, he can be one of the greatest ever. I say that because of his warrior mentality and propensity to take on all comers, he never stopped.
In this fight against Rory, not many people are giving The Prodigy a fighting chance. They call Rory the younger version of GSP and the beginning of a wave of the new MMA talent. Most are saying that Rory will dominate BJ, rag-doll him like he did against Nate Diaz.
I personally think we’ll be in for a treat once the song "E Ala E" by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole plays and BJ Penn walks out to the Octagon. Across the cage will be one of the more dominant rising stars in MMA. The Prodigy is fighting to prove that he belongs on the short list of some of the greatest fighters ever. He's fighting to prove that he belongs in the conversation with the GSPs and Anderson Silvas of the MMA world. And he's only wanting to prove it to himself.
So with that said, I suspect that he’ll be licking blood off of his gloves by the time his fight tonight is all over.