UFC on FOX 5: Penn vs. MacDonald Saturday, December 8 – 10:00 p.m. ET
Key Arena – Seattle, WA
BJ Penn (16-8-2) vs. Rory MacDonald (13-1) Welterweight bout
Line: MacDonald -300, Penn +240,
BJ Penn will look to deliver Rory MacDonald his second career loss in the top welterweight bout on UFC on FOX 5’s main card on Saturday night.
Penn has a number of losses to his name but is among the most well-traveled in the sport, having competed for the welterweight crown and owned the lightweight title. This is just his fourth fight since returning to the welterweight class, a span in which he is 1-1-1. MacDonald has looked unbeatable lately, with three consecutive wins against Nate Diaz, Mike Pyle and Che Mills after losing to Carlos Condit. Understandably, MacDonald enters this fight as the heavy chalk, but Penn is a scrappy fighter who will not go down easily. Although he is three inches shorter, Penn is crafty on his feet and can sneak in for the submission or knockout at any point. He has a reasonable shot to do just that on Saturday, and you have to like his better than 2-to-1 odds in this one. Take PENN to be possibly the biggest upset on the card.
Since returning to the welterweight division, Penn has beaten Matt Hughes, drawn Jon Fitch and lost to Nick Diaz, not to be confused with the Nate Diaz who MacDonald beat. The win against Hughes—a KO just 21 seconds in—showed Penn’s growth, as he had previously lost to Hughes when vying for the welterweight championship in 2006. With the loss and draw, Penn showed he does not have the ideal consistency of top fighters. And he will likely lose this one if it reaches the final bell like those two fights did. But with six career submissions and seven career knockouts, he is more than capable of walking out of the Octagon as the winner before the final bell.
MacDonald brings a nasty combination of boxing and Jiu-Jitsu to the table, and at 6-foot-0 he owns a three-inch height advantage in this bout. His last two wins have demonstrated his power, winning with TKO via punches against Pyle and Mills. But if he takes it to the ground, he can also win via submission, something he has done six times in his career. His one career loss, to Condit, was a TKO. He could be poised for a title bout down the road, but he must not overlook Penn, who has seen everything and may just be able to outcraft this up-and-comer.