It didn’t take long for BJ Penn fans to realize on Saturday night that their once fearsome champion was going to lose — again — to a bigger, faster, and more dynamic opponent in Rory MacDonald.
At UFC on FOX 5 on Saturday night from the Key Arena in Seattle, BJ Penn was reduced to a shadow of his former self as the up-and-coming “Ares” proceeded to decimate the Hawaiian for fifteen minutes en route to a unanimous decision victory.
For Penn, this now makes him 1-4-1 in his last six fights, and questions are swirling as to just how much time “The Prodigy” has left in the sport of MMA. A once proud and dynamic legend, Penn now sits at the crossroads of any great legend’s looming inevitability; there’s that penetrating question, “how much longer can I do this?”
At times during the MacDonald/Penn showdown Penn looked complacent, contemplative, and stoic — not that that’s particularly out of the ordinary for any particular Penn fight. Mind you, this isn’t to make light of Penn’s obvious toughness, because all throughout the three-round beating Penn received at the hands, feet, shins, and elbows of MacDonald, “The Prodigy” never wavered. Even when Penn was brutally doubled over with a left hook to the body from “Ares” there was no real sense that he would give up.
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Penn’s still tough as nails. I mean, the man comes from wealth; that kind of says it all.
Folks, there are lots of “crazy” in this world. There’s poverty stricken ‘crazy.’ There’s good ol’ down South American ‘crazy.’ There’s even, what I like to call, ‘wrestler crazy.’ But nothing – and I mean, nothing – beats ‘rich-guy’ crazy.
BJ Penn never had to do this.
Maybe that’s what has endeared Penn to all of his throngs of fans for so long; maybe it’s his “every man” approach. I know what you’re thinking, “Hey! A rich guy isn’t every man.”
No, you would be entirely correct for thinking that, however, everybody can relate to passion — and having a ‘passion for fighting’ is the only way you can describe BJ Penn.
Rory MacDonald, on the other hand, who has received the dubious moniker as the “Patrick Bateman of MMA” by fans and pundits is a different breed all together.
This American Psycho-esque Canadian (NOTE: Dare I say “Canadian Psycho”) draws that particular comparison for some pretty darn good reasons; the foremost being, he’s one scary dude. He truly is a new breed of fighter; he’s a fighter who has grown up watching complete mixed martial artist’s. Mixed Martial Artist’s like BJ Penn — whom MacDonald mentioned as an influence — were a part of the first generation of complete fighter. They were the first fighters to realize the importance of being well-rounded in all facets of MMA: Boxing, kickboxing, BJJ, Muay Thai, and wrestling. MacDonald has gotten to grow up with that mindset, and it shows. This Canadian phenom has gotten to hone his craft so meticulously, that finding a weakness in his approach isn’t easy. With now having won four fights in a row, MacDonald is poised for a welterweight title shot.
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The only problem: Welterweight champion, and MacDonald’s training partner, is fellow Canadian, George St-Pierre.
With wins over Mike Pyle, BJ Penn, and Nate Diaz, MacDonald has the names on his resume to warrant a potential shot. Throw in the fact that he narrowly missed a clear cut victory against a surging Carlos Condit, and MacDonald is in a position to demand any fight he wants.
Interestingly enough, it seems that MacDonald isn’t interested in GSP and the title. Not yet, anyway.
Instead MacDonald called out the aforementioned Condit for a chance at avenging two years of negative feelings towards “The Natural Born Killer.” So with a potential MacDonald/Condit rematch on the horizon, the welterweight division becomes a bit clearer; especially given the fact that GSP over the weekend made a public plea to UFC President Dana White lobbying for a fight with the UFC’s resident bad-boy, Nick Diaz.
Whatever is next for the division seems rather unimportant at this juncture, because the true welterweight story coming out of Saturday was BJ Penn’s possible demise, and Rory MacDonald’s continued rise through the ranks of contenders to become possibly the new blueprint of future champions.
For Penn, the future lay murky. He could go back down to 155, but who does he fight? Nate Diaz (who lost on Saturday in his title fight to Benson Henderson) seems like an okay option, seeing as how there was animosity between Penn and Nate’s brother, Nick. Penn could fight a Donald Cerrone, or even a Denis Siver – but let’s be honest; how many of you really think he has a chance in those fights?
Wait, don’t answer that.
MacDonald’s future lay in his own hands; or fists if you want to be cliche. Only Rory MacDonald can stop Rory MacDonald at this point. From here on out, it’s all about picking smart fights and performing when those opportunities arise.
That’s what being a champion is all about. BJ Penn knew that — he just didn’t always perform at his best when the opportunity arose. In the end, that may be what people remember most about him; and for this writer, that’s a sad prospect.