Weighing the options for a BJ Penn replacement

Word’s out: BJ Penn is injured and out of his UFC Manila main event against Ricardo Lamas. Lets run down some options for who could replace him.

MMAJunkie.com broke the news this morning that Penn had suffered an injury in training and that there’s still no word who would replace him, or if he’ll be replaced at all.

The challenge now is for the UFC to book a quality opponent to make weight and fight a dangerous top-contender, No. 4 ranked featherweight Lamas, on less than 2 week’s notice (with virtually no training camp).

Considering that anything is possible, here are some fighters who might be up to task in facing Lamas at UFC Manila.

Phillipe Nover
phillipe nover

Putting Fil-Am Nover in the main event would make sense for 2 reasons. First, it provides a main event that the local fans can definitely get behind. Secondly, he’s coming off a fight at UFC Brasilia a few weeks ago, so his body is battle-ready.

The downside is that this is a major challenge for Nover. At UFC Brasilia, he lost to Renan Barao (currently ranked No. 15 at featherweight) via decision after a 3-round war. Can he step up on 2-weeks notice to take on the No. 4 ranked fighter in his division?

Following his fight with Barao, Nover was also issued a medical suspension of 14 days with 1 week of “no contact.” That means his medical suspension doesn’t extend until UFC Manila, but that also means Nover has very little time to recover from his last fight, make weight, and prepare for a fight with Lamas. It’s a tough call. But if he steps up and wins, then that catapults him up the rankings.

Anthony Pettis

Pettis is coming off a successful featherweight debut in late August. He’s ranked No. 6 in the division. Plus, he’ll be in Manila for fight week and fight night as one of the guest UFC fighters, alongside Chuck Liddell, Alistair Overeem, and others.

The concern here is the weight cut. Pettis is a natural 155-pounder and making the cut to 145lbs. is no easy task. Setting this bout at a catchweight, however, could increase the chances of it happening.

Pettis may be waiting out a potential shot against interim champ Jose Aldo, and fighting Lamas might be a risk he’s not willing to take. But then again, Pettis is the guy who fought Clay Guida when he had a guaranteed lightweight title shot waiting, so he might be game enough for this bout. “Bully” vs. “Showtime” would be a fight between two top featherweights, and a win for Pettis would cement any title talks for him.

Max Holloway
max holloway

Holloway beat Lamas in his last fight in June. So while a rematch this soon after doesn’t really do much, it does provide a good plot line and a potential rivalry.

This would be an unnecessary risk for Holloway, however, given that he seems next in line for a title shot (unless Pettis leapfrogs over him). But, if Holloway wants to up his fanfare, especially given that the Filipino fans got to know him a bit during his Promo Tour here last month, then stepping up to face Lamas at UFC Manila would do the trick.

Rolando DyPXC MMA in the Philippines_Dojo Drifter_Gab Dy_Mike MiguelThis may be crazy talk as an effect of hearing that BJ Penn is no longer on the Manila card, but imagine this headline: “Local fighter steps up to face top UFC featherweight at UFC Manila.” Rolando Dy is one of the top prospects in the regional MMA scene. If he wins, then great; we have a bonafide superstar. If he loses, then he still puts his name in the mix. It’s a win-win for Dy.

Should he be offered the fight and he accepts, then that would put him in the main event of a UFC card that’s aired on free TV around the world. Fighting a guy of Lamas’ caliber on short notice may not be Dy’s ideal UFC debut, but this could be the opportunity he’s been waiting (and calling) for.

The main hurdle here for Dy is US Anti-doping Agency (USADA) testing, because the agency requires athletes to be drug tested several times, no later that 4 months, before a fight.

The list goes on really. Look at the current UFC rankings: You could book several interesting opponents to go against Lamas. However, no matter how many good options you have, it remains that this is a short notice fight against a very dangerous opponent. It all boils down to who thinks that the risk in this fight is worth the reward.

Photos via Mike Miguel (Nover, Holloway, Dy) & Sherdog.com (Pettis)

Gab Pangalangan

Gab Pangalangan is a former collegiate national Judo champ and the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of DojoDrifter.com. You can find his other works in the Philippines' leading magazines and websites.
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