One day after learning that his opponent at UFC 199, Dennis Siver, withdrew from their bout due to injury, Hilo native BJ Penn (16-10-2) has found a replacement for his comeback fight in Cole Miller (21-9).
Miller, a 32-year-old featherweight, brings a veteran experience to the octagon with 18 fights in the UFC.
He is also a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. According to UFC Hall-of-Famer and KHON2 MMA analyst Frank Trigg, the match-up change provides a much different problem to solve for “The Prodigy.”
“It’s completely opposite,” Trigg said. “With Dennis Siver, you’re talking about a short, inside kickboxing kind of guy, very flexible taekwondo, and has got a karate style, to Cole Miller, who is very long and very rangy and excellent on the ground.”
Miller has one loss in his last four bouts, while Penn hasn’t won since beating Matt Hughes in 2010, a span of three straight losses and a draw.
Penn is returning from a July 2014 retirement following a third-round TKO loss to Frankie Edgar on the finale of The Ultimate Fighter 19.
He is currently training with Jackson Wink MMA Academy in Albuquerque, N.M. which is considered by many to be one of the top MMA gyms in the world.
“The question is now we go into once again is, what BJ Penn are we getting?” Trigg asked. “The 0-4 BJ Penn just before he retired, that looked horrible and had no business being in the sport, or this new BJ Penn that Greg Jackson believes is ready to take over the world, but that’s been since February?
“Is he fully prepared?” Trigg continued. “I gotta think this will be the best BJ Penn we’ve seen in a long time, but is he good enough for the young guns, especially a guy like Cole Miller?”
The replacement is the second hang-up for Penn during his come-back, after he was investigated and later cleared by the UFC for sexual assault allegations.
“At his age, at 37 years old, you can’t maintain that peak for as long as you would think,” Trigg said. “You try to keep that peak for six weeks while all of a sudden you’re 37, you can only do it for two weeks. He was ready to go according to Greg Jackson in February, it’s now June. He’s gonna have to come off of that peak and go up again.”
UFC 199 is scheduled for June 4 in Los Angeles.