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5/11/16: Top Replacement Opponents to Face B.J. Penn at UFC 199
With Dennis Siver out of UFC 199 with an injury, returning UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn needs an opponent. Here are my top five options; this is a subjective list, so if you’d like to see someone else get that fight, send in your thoughts to MMATorchEditor@gmail.com.
5. Hacran Dias: This replacement spot depends entirely on what the UFC wants to do with Penn. Dias isn’t a flashy name – Siver wasn’t either – but he’s a durable competitor. He’s also not quite as dangerous as some other possible options, so if they’re trying to ease Penn back into things, this might be the right level of replacement. A win means something for Penn, while a loss simply shows he wasn’t going to be a big time competitor in 2016 anyway.
4. Brian Ortega/Clay Guida: If the UFC decides to go the “stepping stone” route with Penn as Demian Maia referred to it as this week, they could give him to the rising Ortega and find some other opponent for Guida. Or, if they want to get Penn a win, they can give him Guida instead and find someone new for Ortega. It would make for a bigger fight for the Los Angeles native Ortega close to home if they gave him Penn, and a chance to beat an even more recognizable name.
3. Myles Jury: Jury might be higher up the food chain than the UFC is looking for this next Penn fight, but he’s lost two straight, including a submission to Charles Oliveira in his featherweight debut in December, so it’s a matchup that can make sense for Penn. It’s more dangerous than some other options, so again it comes down to what the UFC has in mind now that they have to go with a replacement. Siver was the smartest, safest option for Penn’s return, so now it’s about figuring out what level of danger they want to mess around with. Jury would be on the higher end of that, but he could be worth investing in as well.
2. Cub Swanson: Speaking of dangerous at featherweight, Swanson got some confidence and swagger back in his win over the aforementioned Dias last month, so a high profile matchup with a UFC Hall of Famer could be right up his alley. It’s another fight I’m not sure the UFC would be all too keen to book, but it’s a fight that could be extremely entertaining if they wanted to put it together on a few weeks notice. Swanson’s got stopping power, but he’s not a stifling grappler, and a striking battle between he and Penn could show just where Penn’s game is at after two years out.
1. Nik Lentz: If Penn is willing to take a lightweight matchup given the short notice nature of the fight, then let’s go back to the bout that’s got at least some level of animosity and back and forth between the competitors. With Lentz’s poetry jams leaving Penn insulted and unhappy, there’s a ready made story line for this matchup. Why not lean into it and move forward from there? They need something now if Penn’s going to fight, and this is as good a fight as you’re going to find for Penn at this stage of his career.
[Photo (c) Stephen R. Sylvanie via USA Today Sports]
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*cough* Conor McGregor *cough*