American fighter Ricardo Lamas witnessed how UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn blazed his way to the top—twice in two different weight classes—during his prime inside the octagon.
One of the top contenders in the featherweight division currently ruled by proud Irish Conor McGregor, Lamas, 34, has the golden chance to take another step in climbing the ladder and he’ll have to do it against nothing less than one of his idols.
His fantasy will turn into reality on October 15 when Lamas takes on the comebacking Penn in what promises to be an explosive five-round featherweight showdown in the main event of the UFC: Fight Night Manila at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Dubbed as “The Bully” in the MMA world, Lamas, sporting a 16-5 win-loss record since turning pro in 2008, is not only aching to get back on track following a unanimous decision loss to Max Halloway in UFC 199 last June but is also eager to spoil the comeback party of Penn, who’s coming out of retirement after two years.
And that should give the Chicago, Illinois native, a Brazilian Jiu-jitsu blackbelt holder, added motivation.
“There are very few opportunities for one to have a fight against someone of BJ’s caliber and it was a no-brainer,” said Lamas on Wednesday during the formal press launch at the Forbes Ballroom of Conrad Hotel in Pasay City.
Lamas once fought for the UFC featherweight title against then champion, Brazilian great Jose Aldo, but was foiled on his bid via a unanimous decision loss in February, 2014.
That setback, however, only stoked the fire in Lamas, having won three of his next five fights, two off unanimous decisions—over Hacran Dias and Diego Sanchez—and off a guillotine choke submission—against Dennis Bermudez.
Going up against Penn, the second fighter in UFC history to win crowns in two different weight classes—lightweight and welterweight, remains special for Lamas.
“It means a lot,” he said. “I literally watched BJ growing up. He has had lots of great fights.” – By Jerome Lagunzad
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