Nearly seven years removed from his last victory, UFC hall of famer and two weight-class champion BJ Penn (16-11-2) returns to the octagon this Sunday facing Dennis Siver (23-11) at UFC Fight Night 112 in Oklahoma City.
Once ranked as the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world, the ‘prodigy’, now 38 years old has lost four consecutive fights in dominant fashion. Which las led to frustration from fans that wish he would walk away from the sport. However, facing a non-ranked or former champion for the first time in 13-years, Penn is confident that he can return to his winning ways.
According to one of Penn’s greatest rivals, Jens Pulver, a fighter that went 1-1 in his career against BJ, including having handed Penn his first career loss in 2001, many in the MMA world are looking at it his recent fights the wrong way.
You know, I’d like to just see glimmers of the world champion that he was because you can’t take that away from him. That’s etched in stone. He’s just trying to compete right now because this is just a pathway so he can say goodbye in peace and still compete and have fun. You got to love the kid, I love him. I don’t know, in my mind enjoy it for what it is and watch the man go out there and try to compete and find the BJ Penn that he can be proud of because no matter what, I know I’m proud of him.” Pulver told KHON2 Sports Director Rob DeMello over the phone.
Penn, who is considered as one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all-time was the first non-brazilian to ever capture a brazilian jiu-jitsu world championship in 2000 and was just the second fighter to capture UFC titles in two different weight-classes having won both the welterweight and lightweight crowns via rear naked choke submission with wins over Matt Hughes and Joe Stevenson.
I’ve always said it, I’ll say it now and for the next fifteen years after, BJ on top of you, that’s no bueno. That is no good. He gets you down, see, now he’s got to figure out how can I get you down without getting stuck in a boxing match or a kickboxing match. He belongs on top of you. He will tear you apart if he gets on top of you and he’s just got to get there.” Said Pulver who was submitted by Penn via rear naked choke in 2007, six years after beating Penn by split decision.
Siver, also 38 is a respected kick-boxer and will enter the featherweight bout as a slight favorite, despite having lost his last two bouts in the organization.
The 145 lbs. Matchup will open the main card on Fox Sports 1, Sunday at 3:00pm HST.