BJ Penn chose to fight in Manila over New York

Nissi Icasiano
BJ Penn chose to fight in Manila over New York

Josh Albelda/RAPPLER

Penn is scheduled to take on Ricardo Lamas in the main event of the UFC's second show in Manila

MANILA, Philippines – BJ Penn received a once-in-a-lifetime offer from the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) to compete at its inaugural event in New York City on November 12, but the mixed martial arts (MMA) legend turned it down to have his comeback bout on Philippine soil.

Penn is slated to lock horns with number 4-ranked featherweight Ricardo Lamas in the main event of UFC Fight Night Manila 2, which takes place at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

The 37-year-old native of Hilo, Hawaii says it was not a difficult decision to make as the country reminds him of his home.

“The Philippines is like where I am exactly from. You know the air. There are a lot of Filipinos from where I am from,” he told Rappler. “It’s just too comfortable for me. That’s why when they offered it to me, I realized it is like fighting at home.”

Penn revealed that the world’s premier MMA organization intended to include him on the New York pay-per-view card, but he took “Option B” instead and agreed to square off with Lamas.

“We were all set to fight on the New York card because they are going to New York for the first time. But they were like, ‘We got an option for you if you want to fight in the Philippines and fight Ricardo Lamas.’ he said. “ I said to myself, ‘Let’s do it and forget New York.’”

Penn’s 5-round featherweight encounter against Lamas will be his 24th Octagon outing and 12th headlining match in his illustrious 15-year career.

However, “The Prodigy” is currently on a 3-bout losing skid and has not won a single fight since he knocked out arch-rival Matt Hughes in just 21 seconds in November 2010.

In addition, 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.

Penn plans to make the most out of his October trip to the Philippines as strutting his wares in front of Filipino MMA fans is his longtime dream.

“I just want to fight in front of the Filipino fans. I got the feeling that I will go all out,” he stated. –

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