ByScott McCann, writer at
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Scott McCann

UFC Hall of Famer has once again scheduled another date for his long-awaited return to the Octagon.

The former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion has had a two-year hiatus from the sport. Breaking the news via their Spanish-language website, the UFC announced that B.J. Penn’s next opponent will be the exciting, up-and-coming featherweight Yair Rodriguez. Scheduled for January 15, the bout will feature as the main event on the Phoenix Fight Night card.

“The Prodigy” announced his intention to return to the Octagon in late 2015, following a third loss to in July of 2014. Already having postponed his return on several occasions this year, Penn was originally scheduled to face off against , , and .

Although not ranked as highly as Lamas, Rodriquez is a dangerous proposition for Penn. Rodriguez is an exciting young prospect for the UFC in a division that is consistently becoming more competitive. With reportedly taking time off until deep into next year, and with seemingly no plans to defend his belt in the near future, the promotion will be seeking new talent to help flesh out the division.

With an established fan base in Latin America and a growing one in the United States, Rodriquez is perfectly positioned to become the new face of the UFC in Mexico.

Currently on a seven-fight win streak and undefeated in the UFC, Rodriquez has worked his way up to eleventh in the featherweight rankings. And since his UFC debut, the Mexican prospect has been carving out a reputation for himself as a potential future champion in the featherweight division.

Beating a legend like Penn not only builds on his reputation as a fighter, but also adds a high-caliber win to his resume. What better way to stake a claim for a future title shot than beating a former champion. Looking to break into the top ten rankings, a dominant display over Penn could push Rodriguez closer to the division's elite, and matchups against the likes of , , and .

Unfortunately for Penn, this isn’t going to be an easy comeback fight. It’s fair to say that Penn isn’t the fighter he once was. Factor into the equation his age and strain of a weight cut to 145lbs, and it looks like this fight could be a difficult one.

UFC Phoenix Fight Card (as of 11/22/16):

  • B.J. Penn vs. Yair Rodriguez
  • Court McGee vs. Ben Saunders
  • Devin Powell vs. Jordan Rinaldi
  • Erik Koch vs. Tony Martin
  • Cyril Asker vs. Dmitrii Smoliakov
  • Damian Grabowski vs. Viktor Pesta
  • Joachim Christensen vs. Bojan Mihajlovic


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