As many of you will know by now, BJ Penn has been given another fight in the UFC. Currently riding a 7 fighting losing streak, the powers that be determined it was only fair he get another crack at winning.
What is the point?
Nobody knows. Nobody wants to see him fight anymore. And yet here we are. BJ Penn will face Nik Lentz this September in Abu Dhabi at UFC 242. This fight is being reported as having "bad blood" by certain MMA news outlets, but the two have never had a fight materialise. I don't remember this "bad blood" nor do I want to remember. Anyone who is trying to feud with BJ Penn at this stage of his career clearly does not seem to have a career path themselves.
Thinking this over, I have to do the dutiful thing and see from the UFC and BJ Penn's angle. BJ Penn needs the money, he must do, otherwise why? He is destroying his legacy fight by fight and I am discrediting him when I say he is on a 7 fight win streak, because in reality he has lost 9 of his last 11 fights over the past decade (one was also a no contest). His last win was against fellow hall of famer, Matt Hughes, who by the point of them fighting, was a shadow of his former self.
BJ Penn has zero reason in fighting terms to take this fight. So why would he? Well let's discuss his recent legal issues. Yep. Not only is BJ Penn now a low level fighter but he also now being accused of being a sexual and physical abuser of his estranged girlfriend, who is also the mother of his children. His ex also alleges that he has a severe cocaine habit and has done for as long as she's known him. She filed for a restraining order, which was granted in February this year and will expire in 2021. This legal battle and I am sure a legal battle to see his children, will have BJ's purse strings tighter than Nun's.......
The UFC on the other hand, should be the brighter bulb in the bunch here. The promotion over the past few years have tried to exude a feeling that they care about their fighters health. What does this bout say to the MMA world? It says "Brain damage is ok, and if you are accused of drug abuse and physically abusing a woman, it's fine, because you're a legend". Does the UFC feel like they owe BJ Penn? He was indeed a pioneer, a 'Prodigy' if you will, but that was a decade ago. He is now insignificant. It is hard to believe the UFC aren't just giving him this fight to help with his legal woes. How else would their self proclaimed 'legend' pay for those fees? Teaching Jiu Jitsu? Doubtful.
I believe by adding BJ Penn to this card in Abu Dhabi, the UFC believe they are adding a legend to the card that will assist with crowd numbers in the middle east. Again that may have been the case a decade ago, but not now. "Star Power" is hard to come by in the UFC these days and they are desperate to make money from any source they can. If it means promoting someone accused of domestic violence in a country not known for its laws to protect women, then so be it.
Nik Lentz.....oh Nik Lentz. Why take the fight? Well Nik is coming to the slow down of his career at 34 and not being ranked in a stacked division. Lentz apparently is still holding on to his little known 'beef' and just needs that chance to get at BJ. However, for me, Lentz is taking an easy money fight. Lentz knows that fighting a legend will hopefully add some extras to his purse, but where does it take his career? Nowhere. If he beats BJ, he beats BJ. That's it. No fan will look at that and say "Give him a top ten next!". It is pointless.
For me, this is a gross misjudgement from the UFC. They are promoting yet another accused domestic abuser and they are setting up a fight that how no implications other than more brain damage to both fighters. I would ask for more morality from the UFC, but we know that won't get in the way of business.