On Sunday, December 15, our own BJ Penn will make his long-awaited return to the Octagon for a featherweight showdown with dangerous prospect Yair Rodriguez. The pair will duke it out in the main event of UFC Fight Night 103, which will occur in Phoenix, Arizona.
In advance of this anticipated featherweight clash, Rodriguez spoke to MMAJunkie.com about the fight, and what a win over Penn would mean for his career.
He began by addressing rumors that he asked for a fight with Penn specifically.
“BJ is saying that I asked for this fight, and I never asked for this fight,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know who told him that. The UFC just offered me the fight, and I said yes, so here we are, preparing ourselves to get in a war on Jan. 15. I don’t know who told B.J. that I was asking for the fight, but he is wrong.”
“I actually never knew that he was coming back from his retirement until the UFC offered me the fight, so here I am, fighting BJ.”
Rodriguez then weighed in on what this fight with Penn means for his career.
“Fighting BJ Penn is a pretty big deal,” he said. “He’s already a two-time world champion in two different weight classes, so it makes it a pretty big deal for me, a pretty big test for my career. It’s a good opportunity to be tested by the UFC and see if they want to give me the title shot soon or not. I think this fight puts me in a good position for that title shot if I win.
“First of all, I have to win against a legend. But he’s not just a legend, he’s a real life, bone-and-muscle guy in front of me trying to rip my head off. He has a lot of experience. He’s in the Hall of Fame. He knows what it takes to be a champion, and it’s a really big test for me, to fight a guy who knows what it takes to be a champion. It’s good for me. It’s good preparation. I know this guy is going to be hard to beat, but I don’t care. That’s what I’m here for, to fight the toughest guys in the world.”
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