One of the strangest, most random feuds between UFC fighters over the last year has been BJ Penn's beef with Nik Lentz. After months of fighting words, however, both men are now looking for an actual fight.
After being called out on Instagram on Wednesday, Lentz is now campaigning for a bout with Penn at UFC 197...sort of. In a lengthy response to Penn, which was first broken by MMAFighting.com (Warning, NSFW language in this and every link hereafter) via Chuck Mindenhall, The Carny put forward a list of demands to Penn.
"I received your poorly-worded, utterly predictable, message," he said. "In spite of its clumsy structure, awful spelling...I'm considering your request." Lentz then set some parameters for the bout.
First and foremost, he states he will not be able to fight at UFC 197 and predicts that Penn will not be able to either, regardless of what Penn's "yes men" are telling him. He also says he will not be able to compete at 145 pounds and instead demands the fight take place at lightweight.
If this seems strange and sudden to anyone...well, it should. The Penn vs. Lentz rivalry dates to September, when Lentz was caught in the middle of a beef between Penn and nutritionist Mike Dolce. Penn ripped into Dolce for downplaying his own role in Penn's camp ahead of his third bout with Frankie Edgar and for criticizing Penn's training regimen.
He would go on to call out one of Dolce's past pupils, Lentz (while promising to beat him up after). Lentz took exception and fired back through poetry (no, really).
Things have been relatively quiet since but regained steam recently when Penn posted a photo of himself next to famed MMA coach Greg Jackson on Instagram with the words "we coming" alongside tags to the UFC and the company's president, Dana White. That was followed by a definitive call-out from Penn a short time later.
Where things go from here is anyone's guess. Penn's most recent fight, an ill-fated featherweight bout in July 2014, seemed like it would be his last. That said, the UFC would most likely be happy to welcome Penn's star power back into the fold, if not simply because Bellator is making overtures at every MMA legend who may be interested in a return.
That said, Penn's calls for a bout at UFC 197 definitely feel a bit overambitious, but a bout closer to summertime, for better or worse, feels like a real possibility. Keep an eye on Bleacher Report to see how this shakes out.