2017 Begins as 2016 Ended

ufc-fn103At the end of 2016 the UFC and their fans saw one of the biggest letdowns of the year when Ronda Rousey made her return for all of 48 seconds.

That fight was the end of a full month of build-up that all surrounded Rousey’s return with little to no attention paid to current champion and winner of the fight Amanda Nunes.

Lately, Nunes has shown how she felt about being ignored in multiple posts and interviews but it isn’t always a terrible thing.

Sometimes there are fighters who just command a bigger spotlight and the fighters that go against them are pushed to the background.

Those fighters in the background can use that to their advantage though as it can be motivation and it can also mean that they can simply focus on their fight and their preparation.

With Nunes, that is exactly what she got to do and although they should have built up the champion a little bit more than they did she got the win.

She also took some of that shine off of Rousey and put it on herself as she will be one of the two fighters who beat the former champion.

To start off the 2017 UFC calendar the same thing seems to be happening as UFC Fight Night 103 features the return of a superstar and a relatively unknown young fighter.

Leading up to the fight the talk has mainly centred around the return of BJ Penn for the first time in over two years.

Penn is one of the building blocks of the UFC as he was one of the best young fighters when the UFC was just getting noticed.

As the UFC continued to grow into a serious contender in the sports world, Penn became a two-division champion and continued to be one of the stars.

He eventually started to lose the battle to father time and finished his career with three straight losses.

It wasn’t the finished he deserved but it was one of those many ends that needed to be over before it started.

In his time off it was clear that Penn was missing something and so he made the decision to come back.

After multiple scheduled fights Penn finally got his chance to return to the octagon at UFC Fight Night 103 to kick-off the new year in the UFC.

His opponent in that fight was a young star in the making that had yet to make a major impact in the promotion.

Yair Rodriguez was the winner of The Ultimate Fighter Latin America but came into the UFC very much unknown.

Not a lot of people watched that season, it was in Spanish and only broadcast in limited places, and so not many knew him from the show.

After winning the show as a part of UFC 180 in his home country of Mexico, Rodriguez has been on a great run through the division.

Four straight wins have made him one to watch but with only one exciting finish he is not someone that everybody needs to know.

He could be great but decisions are not what get you noticed in the UFC even if all of those decisions were in your favour.mma-sidebar.fw

So nobody was talking about Rodriguez leading up to the fight against Penn but for Rodriquez, it could have been much the same as it was for Nunes.

There was no pressure for the young fighter as he was facing a legend and if he lost he lost to one of the greatest ever.

If he won though he could be immediately noticed by everyone for beating one of the biggest names in the sport.

Like Nunes, he had the chance to take some of the shine off of one of the top names and a win was sure to get him noticed.

From the outset, the differences between the two fighters were pretty clear as the more traditional style of Penn met the awkward style of Rodriguez.

The first round was full of massive kicks to the head, body, and legs of Penn while the UFC Hall of Famer was backing up trying to get his bearings.

Despite a few big shots that had Penn falling back he remained on his feet and lived to fight for another round.

It didn’t last too much longer after that though as the second round started with a big front kick and a right hook that sent Penn to the mat.

Although Penn never went out he took a lot of shots on the ground as the ref gave him a lot of time to recover but he never could.

Penn took the loss and really never looked like he was in the fight from the start as his comeback fell far short of expectations.

His retirement may have been the right decision as this should be a sign that he isn’t up to the new standard in the UFC.

Meanwhile, Rodriguez took the win in very convincing fashion dominating the fight from start to finish with his great kicks.

It is a big win for the young Mexican as he adds a legend to his record and a TKO that is sure to get him more recognition.

He may very well be the future of the division and this could be a springboard to the top of the division and the start of a great run.



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