B.J. Penn, one of just four fighters to hold world titles in two separate weight classes in the UFC, will look to erase memories of the five fight skid he has endured dating back to 2011 when he faces Ultimate Fighter winner Ryan Hall at UFC 232 on December 29 at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
The UFC Hall of Famer has hinted at retirement on several occasions throughout his career but returned early last year after a three-year hiatus and was defeated by Yair Rodriguez and then by Dennis Siver the following June. That pair of defeats made it five defeats and draw since his last UFC win, a 21-second knockout of Matt Hughes in November 2010.
Hall, meanwhile, hasn’t competed since a controversial December 2016 decision win against Gray Maynard in which he was criticised for failing to engage with his opponent and instead staying outside of striking range, occasionally peppering Maynard with ineffective head kicks and pulling guard whenever distance was closed.
The intriguing element to this bout will be both fighters’ grappling pedigree. Penn scythed through his early competition in the UFC on the back of a ground game several leagues above many of his peers while Hall is also a grappler of serious repute, having competed at the sport’s highest level.
The Penn vs. Hall matchup joins a UFC 232 fight card which will also feature Amanda Nunes v Cris ‘Cyborg’, Ilir Latifi vs. Corey Anderson and Jessica Eye vs. Sijara Eubanks.