UFC on FOX 5: December 8, 2012
Profile: A man who many consider the future of MMA, Rory MacDonald (13-1) is just 23 years of age, with his only loss coming against interim welterweight champion Carlos Condit in what was a fairly competitive bout until the end. MacDonald trains out of the Tristar gym in Canada, home of his mentor Georges St. Pierre, and is currently as close as you can get to the top of the division without actually being the champ. He is a deadly finisher, has ground-and-pound as lethal as MMA fans have ever seen and seems to be growing hungrier for a title shot with every fight. Anyone who faces the young Canadian will have a hard time, whether it be on the ground with his wrestling or due to his physicality and distance closing clinches, where he can rag doll just about anyone he gets ahold of.
Profile: B.J. “The Prodigy” Penn (16-8-1) will go down as one of the greatest MMA fighters of all-time when he finally decides to make his retirement stick. The last time MMA bettors saw Penn was when he was on the losing side of a war with Nick Diaz at UFC 137. Although the 33-year-old Hawaiian bettered the elder Diaz in the first round, he was beaten up worse than ever before in the second and third rounds of the welterweight scrap. At 170, Penn may have been champion at one time, but he really should be fighting at 155, where he has looked nearly unstoppable at times. As a welterweight, Penn has lost to Georges St. Pierre twice and Matt Hughes once, and he now takes on a GSP disciple in up-and-coming contender MacDonald, who he thinks is arrogant and possibly a PED-abusing cheater. It has been nearly a year since Penn entered the Octagon, and recent pictures of him led people to believe he was out of shape and living comfortably in retirement. But a personal challenge from MacDonald has motivated him to come back one more time in hopes of silencing the youngster and all those who doubt he is a future UFC Hall of Famer.
Opening UFC on FOX 5 Odds Analysis: MMA oddsmaker Nick Kalikas made MacDonald a moderate -240 favorite (bet $240 to win $100) while Penn opened as a +190 underdog (bet $100 to win $190) according to the MMA odds. MacDonald has a lot more to lose in this fight since he is the one who called Penn out of retirement and will need to come through here, otherwise his fast track to a championship will take a serious detour. This is obviously not the best matchup Penn has ever been involved with, but he makes unpredictable decisions so it is hardly surprising that he took this fight. He did not go out the way he wanted when he called it quits after losing to Diaz, and hanging in there against MacDonald could prove he still has something left in the tank. The problem is, the division is so stacked that an unlikely win for “The Prodigy” would probably not do anything for his career other than help him ride off into the sunset again, only this time with a smile on his face.