MONDAY NEWS DIGEST 1/16: Was B.J. Penn vs. Yair Rodriguez perfectly executed or a miserable failure?

By Michael Hiscoe, MMATorch contributor

Yair Ramirez vs. B.J. Penn (photo credit Mark J. Rebelias © USA Today Sports)

Depending on which story you think UFC was trying to tell in Sunday’s Yair Rodriguez vs. B.J. Penn fight, it was either perfectly executed, or a miserable failure.

After nearly three years out of the cage, Penn returned to UFC to take on rising contender Rodriguez. The comeback story was not fulfilled as Penn was utterly overwhelmed by the much younger Rodriguez, losing by TKO early in the second round.

Penn landed only four significant strikes in the fight, one of which looked to have briefly hurt Rodriguez, but otherwise had little to offer. “That was just sad to see. B.J. Penn, a guy who hasn’t done well since he came back, looked like he was confused out there,” Kenny Florian said right after the fight on FS2. “He was getting hit with pretty everything Yair had to offer.”

Last night’s win marked the second consecutive main event win for Rodriguez, whom UFC aspires to be a big native Mexican star. His August performance against Alex Caceres wasn’t highlight reel worthy, but last night he delivered exactly as UFC likely envisioned. Rodriguez dazzled viewers and Penn with a variety of spinning attacks and overall speed that proved to be more than Penn could handle.

Performance bonuses for the show went to Rodriguez and Alexei Oleinik, who scored the first UFC submission via Ezekiel Choke in his preliminary fight over Viktor Pesta. The Ezekiel Choke is a Jiu-Jitsu technique that typically utilizes the grappler’s sleeve, making the finish impressive and rare in MMA.

Fight of the Night honors went to Augusto Mendes and Frankie Saenz for their prelim brawl that Mendes won by a close split-decision.

Hiscoe’s Analysis: This wasn’t a blow-away show by any means, but it fulfilled its purpose of making Yair Rodriguez look really impressive in a featured position. This should cement him in the top 10 at Featherweight. He was just shy of the top ten in the latest MMATorch Rankings. He should be used against a more legitimate contender his next time out, Ricardo Lamas comes to mind. It’s really unfortunate that B.J. Penn had to be on the other side of that, but he was the one that wanted to make the comeback. I’m hoping that Penn steps aside for good after last night. He didn’t look any better than he did in the Frankie Edgar fight in 2014, and that was pretty dreadful. Penn is one of the all-time greats and I don’t want to see him tarnish his legacy any further. UFC should refuse to let him fight going forward.


-It was announced on last night’s broadcast that T.J. Dillashaw and Cody Garbrandt will be coaching the upcoming season of “The Ultimate Fighter.” The season will be subtitled “Redemption” and will include past TUF winners and contestants, and at least one active UFC fighter. The season debuts April 19 on FS1. Garbrandt and Dillashaw will fight for the Bantamweight Championship at the conclusion of the show, likely during International Fight Week in July.

-Also announced last night was that UFC 210 will take place on April 8 from Buffalo, New York. No fights have been announced.

-Last night’s show drew 11,859 fans with a paid gate of $913,372.75 to the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix.

-Floyd Mayweather had the following to say regarding Dana White’s $25 million offer to fight Conor McGregor. “The last time I made $25 million – actually I made more – but the last time I made $25 million was ten years ago. I’m not bragging or boasting, I’m just telling the truth. I’m appreciative and thankful, $25 million is still great money. But for the last, I don’t know how many years, my guaranteed lowest was like, 32, a little bit over 32. In the Canelo [Alvarez] fight I made over $100 million in that fight and just in two fights, Pacquiao and Canelo, those two fights, somewhere upwards of $400 million. $400 million or better. Sponsorship money leading up to the Pacquiao fight, that week I made 25 to 30 million. So these are my numbers. They can say, ‘Floyd’s lying’ all they want to. If I was so desperate and hurting for money I would come back.”

NOW CHECK OUT YESTERDAY’S UPDATE: SUNDAY NEWS DIGEST 1/15: Invicta FC 21 delivers an exciting, fast-paced event with a questionable ref’s call (w/Hiscoe’s Analysis)

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