UFC on FOX 5: Penn on his legacy, Henderson on getting a ‘W’ any way he can

image courtesy of Zuffa, LLC

UFC on FOX 5 will go down on December 8 in Seattle’s Key Arena and will feature a lightweight title fight between current titleholder Benson Henderson and challenger Nate Diaz. The co-main event brings on a welterweight clash of old and new with BJ Penn facing off against Rory MacDonald.

Since dropping back to lightweight, Diaz (16-7, MMA) has gone a a 3-fight win streak to make his case to challenge for the belt. The Cesar Gracie trained Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt presents Benson Henderson (17-2, MMA) with one of the toughest challenges to date.  Henderson knows finishing Diaz, won’t be an easy feat.

“I’m just trying to get a W. I’m trying to get my hand raised however I can get it. If he slips on a banana peel, I’ll take it. If it’s a fight to the victory, I’ll take it. If it’s a closer, razor thin decision, even closer than the second Frankie fight, I’ll take that too. Getting a W is not easy to come by in the UFC, going against the best guys in the planet, I’ll take it any way I can get it,” Henderson said.

For Diaz, going after the belt isn’t just about representing himself as the top fighter at 155 pounds, but wanting to bring another belt home to the 209. When asked about the title fight Nate said his whole team has been champions and now it’s his turn.

The co-main event features a matchup between one of the UFC’s rising welterweight stars, Rory MacDonald (13-1, MMA) and one of its legends, BJ Penn (16-8-2, MMA). Penn is making his return to the Octagon after retiring following his loss to Nick Diaz at UFC 137. After 14-months out of the fight game, TriStar trained MacDonald gives Penn a chance to get even with the camp which was his main motivation for coming out of retirement.

MacDonald, who has often been compared to welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre, is ready to step into his own spotlight with a defeat over Penn. With only one loss to Carlos Condit in the UFC, MacDonald is now up against one of the toughest fighters the sport has ever seen. Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming fight, MacDonald wants keep fighting as much as possible.

“I just want to fight more often, quality or whatever, I don’t care,” MacDonald stated. “After this fight with BJ, I’m pretty much ready to fight in March, or take short notice fights. As long as I keep my weight in check, it won’t be a problem for me to make 170 on short notice anymore. I’m pretty much ready to go all the time now. With how I’m going to change things up as far as my training, it’s going to work well with me fighting a lot more.”

MacDonald later explained that he’s taking more time off between training days and allowing himself more time to recover which is what he thinks will help him to fight more often in the future.

Despite having GSP, who has beat Penn twice, training in the same gym as him, Rory added that he did not reach out to ask him for pointers on fighting Penn.

“I didn’t really ask him anything. I mean I watched [GSP and Penn’s fights]. I mean, he told me a few things, but I’m not like the kind of guy that really wants to know everything about somebody, I don’t really care. I mean for all I know BJ could have completely changed his training, maybe he’s a Muay Thai fighter now. I don’t really care. I just get better as a fighter and as a martial artist, I just react to right now. I don’t really care about the past. He told me a few things that were interesting, but that’s about it,” MacDonald said.

For Penn, the fight has far reaching implications. Cementing his legacy as an MMA Fighter and proving he’s still a top dog at 170 were big factors that led to him coming out of retirement.

“I’m just focusing on this fight. I got no more plans after this,” said Penn. “Once I do have any plan, I’ll call Dana and we’ll talk from that point. But I got no plans after December 8th, my whole life has just been for that.”

When BJ first signed on to fight Rory, he admitted that he was out of shape and unprepared. When the first bout that was initially slated for UFC 152 was scratched and moved to a later date, that’s when BJ got serious about his comeback.

“I actually expect a lot out of myself on December 8th. I got back together with my old trainer that trained me for the Jens Pulver, Joe Stevenson and Sean Sherk fight. We took my belly off. I think the best thing for me was the fight getting postponed and pushed back. I think I started this training camp at 40% body fat and I was just going to get into shape a little, go there and give it my best effort. But as things started going on, Rory ended up pulling out ten weeks before the last fight and he was saying that he found me, I looked fat and a bunch of different things. That he’d have no problem killing me in the ring and that really lit a fire under my butt and I think I’m a 110% now. I’m ready to go. I’m expecting the best BJ Penn that I’ve ever seen.”

While BJ Penn was probably responsible for thousands becoming fans of the sport, his last five fights include 3 losses, 1 draw and 1 win. Penn hopes that a triumphant win against Rory can lock him in as one of the greatest to ever step into the Octagon. Prior to this fight, Penn texted Dana about how disturbed he was by his name being left out of conversations that include legendary MMA fighters.

“I watch all these interviews and all these people talking and no one says my name when they talk about the greatest fighters anymore – and I really don’t like that, it really bothers me. And I know it’s my fault. I know I’m the reason why people don’t talk about me when they talk about GSP or Anderson Silva. My name was always in the mix, it’s never in the mix anymore and I told Dana I got a real problem with that. And that was actually a big part of my motivation to come back here strong and do a good fight here on December 8th.”

Additionally, Penn added that if the UFC were to ask him to step up and mix it up in super fight against Silva that he’d take it. “That fight, that’s on Georges himself, but everybody on this call knows what B.J. Penn would do.”

“I think Super Fights are great and I think it causes a lot of hype and Dana knows that. Dana knows that are super fights are -look at the name, super fight – it’s awesome, it’s what this sport is about, it’s what this sport is built on, get the two best fighters in the world and put them in the ring,” Penn said of a possible GSP-Silva fight. “I gotta give that to Dana, he does that every time. He doesn’t let no Paquiao-Mayweather situations ever happen – he’s the man. Dana White you’re the man.”

Dana White said of the welterweight bout and the challenge that lies ahead for MacDonald. “I think this is a big fight for Rory. The one thing that you always know about BJ Penn, you’re not going in there and running over BJ. BJ’s gonna fight up til the end. He’s never been knocked out. BJ’s a tough guy man, BJ’s a crafty guy. He’s got good stand up, obviously great submissions, his wrestling is good. I think BJ’s going to be a big test for him,” White said.

UFC on FOX 5 takes place on December 8 from Seattle, WA at the Key Arena. The Facebook fights are expected to start at 3:30pm ET/12:30pm PT. The preliminary card can be seen on FX at 5pm ET/2pm PT. The main card starts at 8pm ET/5pm PT on FOX.

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