MANILA, Philippines – Many cageside observers are skeptic about BJ Penn’s unexpected return to active competition as the mixed martial arts (MMA) legend is several years past his prime and has suffered consecutivel defeats in his 28-fight professional career.
Known by his moniker “The Prodigy,” Penn is currently on a 3-fight losing skid and has not won a bout since he knocked out arch-rival Matt Hughes in just 21 seconds in November 2010.
He has been on the sidelines for over two years as he temporarily called it quits with MMA after losing to Frankie Edgar in their July 2014 rubber match.
However, Penn seeks to prove his critics wrong by taking out Ricardo Lamas as he is booked to face the No. 4-ranked featherweight in the main event of UFC Fight Night Manila 2, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on October 15.
“Definitely, I want to shut those guys up. They actually give me a blueprint of what I want to do in a way. They definitely drive me,” he told Rappler
Penn pointed out that he has been dealing with criticism for his entire 15-year run in the sport, but says his doubters always give him an extra push in the mental aspect.
“I do not want to worry about what others say. On the other side, it is good that I have people on the outside, saying ‘Hey, look man, this is where you are right now.’ It’s kind of a good thing for me to look at that because there’s always two sides of every story,” he said.
The 37-year-old native of Hilo, Hawaii cited his love for martial arts and the desire to compete at top once more as two of the reasons why he ended his brief retirement.
“I love martial arts. It’s not just my outlet. It’s my identity. I just love it (fighting),” Penn stated.
Even if Penn’s Octagon return is seen as a cause for celebration to some, many believe that he is done in MMA and has nothing more to prove, including his opponent Lamas.
Penn has set several goals in his surprising MMA comeback, but silencing the naysayers remains as his top priority.
“I believe people out there, including the doubters, know that I can step up any given day and just ruin my opponent’s day in a matter of seconds,” he confidently asserted. – Rappler.com
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