UFC 232 will mark the return of a legend – whether the fans agree with his return or not.
BJ Penn’s best days may be behind him. His okay days may be behind him, for that matter. But Penn earned his fame by having a willingness to fight anyone, anywhere. He’s competed at featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, and even in the heavyweight range.
At one time, he wanted to fight former light heavyweight and heavyweight champion Randy Couture – Penn is a true madman in that sense. But his tenacious attitude has earned him a lot of respect, and rightfully so.
He was the second man, after Couture, to win championships in two different weight classes. And for every critique, he received for relying more on natural talents as opposed to a dedicated approach to training, he was praised for his toughness.
And his penchant for grappling expertise. While no slouch in the boxing department, Penn got his nickname “The Prodigy” for his stunning ability to earn a black belt in only three years and a few months. He backed up his ranking, too, winning competitions and using his submission skills to win many fights in the Octagon.
Penn has always been a force to be reckoned with on the ground, and there’s no reason to believe he’s lost his skill there. Though he’s taken multiple losses in a row during the end of his career, fans of the sport know that when Penn hits the mat someone could be in trouble.
But the man he is set to face at UFC 232, Ryan Hall, is known for his grappling as well. He’s a submission specialist in his own right and arguably prefers to be a grappler over anything else. This brings up an interesting question – will Hall attempt to grapple with Penn?
Hall said: “I am not the least bit afraid of anyone on the ground. That doesn’t mean that people aren’t dangerous. Again, being better or worse doesn’t win, you know. I have won plenty of times when I have not been the more technically precision or the more experienced person. And I’ve lost sometimes when I have been. Ultimately it will come down to who is able to put it together on the night.”
As for who would win in a grappling battle between the two, it is anyone’s guess. Penn will have a chance to prove whether he still has the grappling credentials necessary to best his foe if the fight does go to the ground. And Hall will be able to demonstrate whether his no-fear attitude is warranted against a man who took to Brazilian jiu-jitsu like a fish to water.
Penn has accomplished a number of impressive grappling feats throughout his career, including out-grappling and submitting the likes of Matt Hughes, Kenny Florian, and many others.
While he has had some bouts at featherweight during his most recent appearances, Penn’s return fight will take place at his natural weight class of 155-pounds.