Rising star Yair Rodriguez overwhelmed UFC legend BJ Penn with a barrage of strikes in a lopsided performance during the main event from Phoenix on Sunday night to remain undefeated in the Octagon.
While Penn’s resume included a laundry list of champions and former champions, he walked into the Octagon as a four-to-one underdog against Rodriguez, who has looked like a future title contender through his first few fights in the UFC.
Coming off “The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America”, Rodriguez has quickly become one of the most talked about competitors on the entire UFC roster and his latest performance showed once again why he’s rocketing towards title contention in 2017.
Article continues below ...
Penn assembled an all-star coaching staff to help him prepare for his first fight back in more than two years, but he found out in quick order what it was like to go up against a young gun in Rodriguez during the first few exchanges.
As soon as the fight started, Rodriguez showcased his dominance by going after Penn with a dizzying array of kicks to the head, body and legs that absolutely punished the UFC Hall of Famer before he even had a chance to return fire.
Penn did a good job of blocking most of the high kicks that came firing at him from Rodriguez, but the blunt force still ricocheted his own arms against his head repeatedly throughout the opening round.
The speed difference was also rather evident with Rodriguez unleashing four or five strikes before Penn could even fire back with one of his own.
As the first round came to an end, Penn staggered back to his corner with a disappointed look on his face but things only got worse from there.
Rodriguez wanted a finish and came out blasting away at Penn when the second round got underway before connecting with another head kick followed by a quick punch that put the former welterweight and lightweight champion down on the mat.
Rodriguez followed Penn to the ground where he opened up with a barrage of punches and hammer fists before referee John McCarthy finally called a merciful end to the fight just 24 seconds into the second round.
All told, Rodriguez out landed Penn 55-4 in significant strikes in a fight that lasted less than six minutes.
“I fought a legend tonight,” Rodriguez said after the win. “He deserves all the respect. I just want to say thank you so much, BJ Penn for accepting the fight, even if I don’t ask for it, right? I just want to say respect overall.”
The featherweight division hasn’t seen a star like Rodriguez since Conor McGregor first arrived a few years ago. McGregor left featherweight to pursue a second world title at 155 pounds so Rodriguez seems like the perfect fighter to pick up where he left off.
“I’m here for whatever you want to bring,” Rodriguez told the UFC matchmakers sitting cage side during his performance.
It’s hard to imagine a scenario where Rodriguez doesn’t get a marquee matchup against a top five opponent following this latest win. While Rodriguez wasn’t willing to name anybody in particular, a showdown with fellow flashy striker Cub Swanson could be a huge fight in the featherweight division.
As for Penn, it was a rough night for the UFC legend after returning to action for the first time in more than two years. Penn didn’t say anything after the fight so it’s unclear if he’s ready to make a decision on his future, but it’s hard to imagine the UFC will be on board to book him for another high-profile matchup after what happened on Sunday night.