UFC 80: Rapid Fire
Saturday January 19, 2008 9:00PM (EST)
BJ Penn vs Joe "Daddy" Stevenson
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BJ Penn (14 - 4 - 1) at the 155 UFC lightweight division might be unstoppable. He has all the skills needed to be a long time champion and he rededicated himself to train harder. He will be fighting Joe "Daddy" Stevenson (28 – 7) at UFC 80 and Stevenson is not quite the fighter that Penn is. Stevenson is a very good grappler and has decent wrestling skills but they're not the same level as Penn’s jujitsu.
BJ Penn wants this belt and has been training very hard for a shot at Sean Sherk. Penn has been talking a lot of trash but he has all the skills to back it up. His work ethic is no longer in question as he has surrounded himself with a great team to help train properly.
Stevenson’s game plan will be to use his wide frame and strength to gain top position. However, in a grappling match BJ Penn has the advantage. BJ Penn was beating blackbelts in jujitsu when he was just a white belt. Stevenson might be a good jujitsu fighter and take top position with his strength but all he will be able to do is hold for position as his ground and pound will not be effective. Once Stevenson does rise up for any type of ground and pound Penn’s jujitsu is so good he will be able to sweep him from any angle. Stevenson has the majority of his wins by submission (12) but how will he be able to submit a master in BJJ? His wins by submission have not be against such a high class MMA fighters like BJ Penn.
Penn has also fought some of the toughest MMA fighters in the world (at the welterweight 170 pound division) like Matt Hughes at UFC 63 - Hughes vs Penn, Georges St. Pierre at UFC 58 - USA vs Canada, Renzo Gracie, Lyoto Machida, Rodrigo Gracie, Duane Ludwig, Takanori Gomi, Caol Uno and Matt Serra at UFC 41 – Onslaught. Stevenson just has not fought the same level of opponents as Penn has and certainly no one in the top ten.
One of the most underestimated skills of Penn has been his improved stand up game which will be the deciding. If you sat across the UFC octagon fighting a person with Penn’s reputation you would not want to take him to the ground. Penn knows that his stand up game has improved dramatically. Stevenson has never had a great stand up game and this is where the fight will be decided.
Bottom Line: Stevenson will try to make this a stand up fight but that will fall into the hands of Penn’s game. He will dominate the stand up and if Stevenson shoots and takes him down, Penn will nullify his ground and pound thorough his guard by creating a stalemate until the ref stands the fighters up. If this fight turns into a jujitsu match, Penn will use his superior skills to overwhelm him with his flexibility and base control. Penn has incredible base that once in top position he will be able to dominate Stevenson.
Penn wins a three round fight with superior stand up skills to become the interim UFC lightweight champion.
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