By: Chris Taylor (Kalapaki Joe’s Staff Writer)
Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn will return to the octagon on October 15 when he squares off with former UFC featherweight title challenger Ricardo Lamas in the main event of UFC Manila.
The UFC Hall of Fame fighter, Penn, recently sat down with BJPENN.com’s Chris Taylor where he discussed his comeback fight and future plans in the sport.
Check it out:
Taylor: “I know you were initially targeting your comeback fight to take place at November’s highly anticipated UFC 205 event in New York. How did this fight with Lamas in Manila come together?”
Penn: “The UFC called and offered me the fight with Ricardo in Manila and I thought to myself this is perfect. I’m really happy and excited to be fighting in Asia. I want to show my fighting spirit to all of the Asian fans. This one is going to be called ‘The Killa in Manilla!'”
Taylor: “A lot of fans and analysts are questioning your decision to comeback and fight the #4 ranked featherweight in the UFC for your first bout in over two years. What is your response to that?”
Penn: “Why would I care what anyone else thinks? The first thing those guys should do is go to the bank, drain their accounts and go put all of their money on Ricardo Lamas. Because the day before the fight I’m going to bet on myself and make a whole lot of money.”
Taylor: “What do you think of Ricardo Lamas as a fighter?”
Penn: “Ricardo is going to be a great test for me. He has some nice fancy kicks and I’m sure he is an excellent grappler. It is a great comeback fight for me.”
Taylor: “Will you be returning to train at Greg Jackson’s gym for this fight with Lamas?”
Penn: “Yes. I am back at Jackson’s for this camp. I’m training with Diego Brandao and hopefully with Donald Cerrone very soon.”
Taylor: “How do you feel about your comeback fight being a five-round main event bout?
Penn: “I’m used to only title fights being five rounds. But that said, this fight is not going to go five rounds!”
Taylor: “If you are able to defeat Lamas on October 15 in Manila, would you be opposed to fighting your former training partner Jose Aldo for the featherweight title?”
Penn: “No. At 37-years-old I have no choice at this point. I have to make my mark or walk away. When I first tried to make my comeback, there was a different champion (McGregor) then Aldo. Who knows what the future will hold with all of this.”
Taylor: “There are rumors that fellow Hawaiian Max Holloway may be the next man to challenge Jose Aldo for the title, this if Conor McGregor decides against returning to featherweight. If that was the case, who would you rather fight in the future assuming that you defeat Ricardo Lamas in Manila?”
Penn: “May the best man win in that fight (Aldo vs. Holloway). It doesn’t matter to me, may the best man win.”
Taylor: “Speaking of Conor, what did you think of the second fight between McGregor and Diaz and do you feel he is worthy of a lightweight title shot without ever having fought in the UFC’s lightweight division?”
Penn: “It was a great fight, very close. I really don’t know why McGregor would get a lightweight title shot. He fought Diaz twice at welterweight and lost once and this last fight was basically a draw. But it is a business and I understand that, so that is why Dana probably offered him the lightweight title shot.”
Taylor: “What is the ultimate goal in regards to your UFC comeback?”
Penn: “The first goal is to beat Lamas and go get the 145-pound title. Then me and Greg Jackson will sit down and talk about going after the 155-pound title again. Look, all of this stuff about winning titles at different weights has been done before. I did it twelve years ago when I was 25-years-old. As of today, I am the only one chasing a third world title. Nobody else is even close.”
Taylor: “Any last words for Lamas or your fans?”
Penn: “To the fans thank you for all your support over the years. Ricardo Lamas I will see you on October 15. And to all the doubters, go put all your money on my opponent.”