Penn blasts fighters looking for ‘money fights’
The two biggest pay per view events in mixed martial arts history, UFC 202 Diaz vs. McGregor 2 (1,500,000) and UFC 196 McGregor vs. Diaz (1,300,000+), were not for titles. There is an increasing realization that the fights fans most want to see are not necessarily between the champion and the #1 contender.
Champions are particularly drawn to the idea. What nut wouldn’t want a fight against an opponent more likely to lead to further points on the PPV fights, that makes more money? That’s how UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping came to fight and beat #14 ranked Dan Henderson. That’s how former men’s bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz came to fight and lose to #5 ranked Cody Garbrandt. That’s why UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley wants to fight Georges St-Pierre, Nick Diaz, Michael Bisping, or Conor McGregor.
This desire coincides with the needs of the UFC, which seeks to realize a return on a $4,000,000,000 investment. Part of that strategy means putting on fights that will sell the most PPVs, regardless of whether or not the opponent is ranked #1. However, UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn is not impressed with these “money fights.”
“I’ll tell you this, I’m not the guy to go out there and say ‘oh give me this money fight, give me that money fight’,” said Penn to FOX Sports. “I look at all these guys doing that and I’m like why don’t you go knock out a 100 guys and become the money fight yourself? “
“That’s the only way to do it.”
Penn fights the formidable Yair Rodriguez on January 15, 2017 at UFC Fight Night 103. Rodriguez is on a six-fight win streak, and is ranked #10 in the division. Penn plans to beat Rodriguez and then make a run for the featherweight belt. Penn is one of just three figures in UFC history to hold belts in two division. If successful, he would be the first to hold belts in three divisions. He has not won a fight since 2010, vs. Matt Hughes. He is 0-3-1 since, and was 0-2 before that.