SEATTLE - After a long layoff, B.J. Penn will be back in the Ultimate Fighting Championship octagon today.
Penn, a former lightweight and welterweight titleholder, will have his first match since October 2011 when he meets Rory MacDonald.
"I believe a human being only has so much fight in him, but I think over the course of my career, the way different things have happened, I've gotten to take time off, time that was needed," the Big Island fighter, 33, said in a news conference posted online. "I think it was very good, and very healthy for me to have this rest this last year. It was great for me."
B.J. PENN – ‘I believe a human being only has so much fight in him, but I think over the course of my career, the way different things have happened, I’ve gotten to take time off, time that was needed. I think it was very good, and very healthy for me to have this rest this last year. It was great for me.’
Penn (16-8-1) lost to Nick Diaz 13 months ago, and has won just one of his last five fights.
"He said he's fighting to get his legacy back. I don't know if it's true or not, if that's his motivation to fight or not," said the 23-year-old MacDonald (13-1-0). "If that is true, if you're fighting for someone's opinion, for a status, it's the wrong reason to fight. But his motivation might be something else altogether. If that is his motivation I think it's going to get him hurt."
The MacDonald-Penn fight is on the undercard of a stacked series - lightweight champion Benson Henderson will face Nate Diaz in the main event, and a light-heavyweight fight between Alexander Gustafsson and Shogun Rua will likely give the winner a shot at champion Jon Jones.
UFC ON TV
3 p.m.-Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz; Mauricio Rua vs. Alexander Gustafsson; Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn; Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick, FOX
UFC president Dana White said he considers the card - the fifth to be carried by Fox - the finest put together for broadcast television and one of the strongest overall during a run of bad luck with injuries.
"The way things have gone for us lately, you know how happy I am to be standing up here with all the guys picked to fight on this card. It's been a while. I'm really happy about it," White said. "Obviously, when we made this card not only do we love the card, the fans love the card, Fox loved the card, everybody loved this card and the fact that it stayed together, I'm just happy to be here."