BJ Penn Big Underdog Against RodriguezPublished on January 2nd, 2017 2:51 pm EST
On Sunday, January 15th, former Lightweight and Welterweight champion BJ Penn will return to action against Yair Rodriguez in the main event of UFC Fight Night 103.
The last few years have been filled with turmoil for BJ Penn. Following a shockingly bad loss to Frankie Edgar, Penn has had some issues to deal with. A number of months ago, Penn announced that he would be making his return to the UFC following his "retirement", though issues such as being suspended for IV use popped up. It now appears as though Penn will finally be returning to the Octagon on January 15th, which should thrill his fans to hear.
The problem? Penn will returning against a beast by the name of Yair Rodriguez. Rodriguez is considered one of the top prospects in the Featherweight division, and Penn will certainly have his hands full against the dynamic Rodriguez. This is a five round fight, which means that Penn will need to show significant improvements in his cardio if he wants to have a chance.
The odds reflect a minimal amount of confidence in Penn's chances on January 15th - here they are:
BJ Penn, 4.55
Yair Rodriguez, 1.22
According to these odds, Rodriguez should win this fight over 80% of the time.
The big question is - which BJ Penn are we going to see on January 15th?
Penn has been training with Greg Jackson for the past number of months, so we really don't know what kind of improvements to expect. What kind of gameplan will Penn enter the Octagon with? Can he be expected to outstrike Rodriguez? How is BJ's cardio? There are many unanswered questions, which makes handicapping this fight quite difficult.
Bettors will be left with the enduring image of Penn getting starched by Frankie Edgar in his last fight. In that tilt, Penn employed a bizarre stance and was thoroughly outclassed by Edgar in every stage of the fight.
Greg Jackson has a history of turning around fighters (see Alistair Overeem) by getting them to play to their strengths.
BJ's biggest strength? His legendary BJJ game. It seems to me that BJ's path to victory is on the ground, as it is hard to imagine that he will be able to outstrike Rodriguez.
Rodriguez, on the other hand, will surely look to keep things standing. Much like the Penn/Diaz fight, Rodriguez will likely look to wear out Penn and really take it to him in the latter rounds. The longer the fight goes, the more it will play to Yair's advantage.
This is a very interesting fight that hinges on the answer to the question - which BJ will we see on January 15th?
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