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By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
B.J. Penn's decision to end his retirement early for a bout with Rory MacDonald came as a surprise to some, especially considering the fact that he turned down a bout with Josh Koscheck, who is a more established name in the UFC's welterweight division.
However, Penn's decision was more about returning against a young prospect, and in an interview with his own site BJPenn.com, he explained just what pulled him to the MacDonald matchup.
"When Rory put the challenge out there, for me - I'd love to. Honestly with Koscheck, Pettis, Melendez calling me out - I'd love to take another crack at someone good like Rory McDonald and Tri-Star gym," Penn said. "My last fight with Tri-Star gym was all the way back in UFC 94 and it didn't go the way I wanted. I'd like to take another crack at ‘em and show I can do better than I did better than last time."
Penn's feud with the Montreal's Tri-Star gym is embedded in his feud with UFC Welterweight Champion Georges St-Pierre and the two fights they had, the most recent of which came at UFC 94 in 2009. St-Pierre mostly dominated the action for four rounds, prompting Penn's corner to stop the fight before the fifth round.
"The Prodigy" maintained at the time that St-Pierre had greased himself during the fight, leading to an appeal of the event's outcome, which was ultimately denied. However, he insists that part is in the past, yet wants to show Tri-Star that the outcome of that fight was nothing more than a fluke.
"The past is the past," Penn said. "There's nothing for me to talk about on that end. That is definitely left in the past. It would be nice to let them know it was a fluke. The fight is not going to go down the same way. Rory is not just going to walk in there and take me out and beat me up for 4 rounds straight and end up putting me away. I really believe that the fight is going to go different and they are going to realize that when we start fighting. This isn't the same guy they fought that night and this is going to be a whole different thing.
"Besides that there is no bad blood. I see Firas [Zahabi] all the time. I see Georges. Everything is in the past. I'd like to get out there show Tri Star gym and their fans - I'm a worthy opponent. I'm not just a guy that's going to walk in the ring and somebody's just gonna walk across the other side and walk across and crush me. That's not gonna be the story."
Penick's Analysis: This is a completely different fight for Penn than St-Pierre, but if a manufactured need to prove something to Tri-Star is what brings him back to the cage, that's going to be enough for some people. MacDonald represents a fight that Penn thinks he can win, and the added bonus of it being against Tri-Star seems to be all Penn needed after shooting down several other matchups. This fight won't do anything to erase the memory of the GSP fights, but it does ultimately get "The Prodigy" back in the cage.
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Jamie Penick, editor-in-chief
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