As an event orchestrated almost exclusively around a coming-home gimmick for Memphis native Quinton Jackson, Saturday’s “UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez” fails rather miserably. (Jackson is too busy becoming the next Brian Bosworth.) As a card bolstered by two homicidal 155 lb. fighters, it should be judged for what it is, not what it could’ve been.
With Georges St. Pierre having beaten 170 lb. aspirations out of him, B.J. Penn appears to be the most mentally and physically functional fighter of his entire nine-year career. He’s hell to take down, more or less immune to submissions, and shows off cleaner hands every time he engages. Gone is the fighter who bounced from class to class, ballooning up to take on Lyoto Machida in Japan like an MMA De Niro.
To know a great athlete is diluting his own mark by toiling in weird, random bids is frustrating. He’s found his fit. It’s a pleasure to watch. Keep him away from the white flour.
What: UFC 107: Penn vs. Sanchez, an 11-bout card from the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.
When: Saturday, December 12, at 10 p.m. ET on pay per view
Why You Should Care: Because Penn won’t be able to sit back against a hyper Diego Sanchez; because Frank Mir has slowly morphed into a hulking Zen master of bone-breaking; because you can actually lose weight watching Clay Guida fight; and because Paul Buentello aiming for the altitude head of 6’11” Stefan Struve is a little bit of Japan, right here at home.
Fight of the Night: For both consequences and action, it’s hard to think anything other than a flash KO will stop Penn/Sanchez from being a Fight of the Year contender.
Sleeper Fight of the Night: Alan Belcher vs. Wilson Gouveia; Gouveia likes his finishes and Belcher’s fight with Yoshihiro Akiyama earned Fight of the Night honors in July.
Hype Quote of the Night: “[Kongo] might recently have decided to [work more jiu-jitsu,] but that just shows the mindset: if it took this long, to have a fight with me before starting to improve, how motivated are you to do it?” -- Mir to Sherdog.com and gathered media