The itch to fight inside the octagon hasn’t waned for UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn.
That explains why Penn, now 37, has decided to come out of retirement after more than two years to take on fellow American Ricardo Lamas in the main event of the UFC: Fight Night Manila on October 15 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
A former lightweight and welterweight titleholders in the world’s most popular MMA outfit, Penn intends to become the first UFC fighter to hold the coveted belts in three different weight classes and his upcoming fight with Lamas, ranked at fourth in the featherweight division, could serve a big step in the right direction.
“I’m very excited,” said Penn on Wednesday afternoon during the formal press launch at the Forbes Ballroom inside the posh Conrad Hotel in Pasay City, sharing center stage with Lamas and Kenneth Berger, the executive vice president and general manager of UFC Asia.
“I’m going to climb the ladder and I’m going to get the belt,” he added, his peripheral view focused on the brash-talking Irish fighter Conor McGregor, who currently holds the UFC featherweight title. “I’m the only one who’s hunting for a third world title. I got a great test in front of me.”
Aside from trying to stop a three-fight losing skid, the last a TKO setback dealt by American Frankie Edgar in July 2014, Penn, holding a 16-10-2 win-loss-draw record, is expected to have his hands full against the younger Lamas, a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blackbelt holder fondly called as “The Bully” for his bull-strong power and tough-as-nails attitude.
Like Penn, Lamas is also eager to return to winning ways following a unanimous decision loss to Hawaii native Max Halloway in UFC 199 last June.
A lion’s share of the spotlight, however, will fall on Penn, known as “The Prodigy” who is considered a living legend in mixed martial arts who defeated UFC champions like Jens Pulver, Sean Sherk and Matt Hughes during his prime.
Penn admitted his passion to fight—and win—inside the octagon remains even during a brief retirement.
“I’m just trying to go out there and make an honest living. But besides that, it’s the beauty of the sport; it’s so fun and I never stop learning. I just can’t get enough of it. There’s nothing better than that,” He said.
Tickets for the event has been officially put on sale beginning on Wednesday at all SM Tickets outlets or through www.smtickets.com, with prices pegged at P12,500 (VIP); P9,500 (Patron); P7,200 (Lower Box A); P6,000 (Lower Box B); P2,350 (Upper Box) and P1,350 (General Admission). – By Jerome Lagunzad
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JLFoxSports