Rory MacDonald had no business calling out B.J. Penn on June 4 in an "MMA Hour" interview.
Instead of setting his sights on an aging legend who has just one victory since 2010, MacDonald should have focused on a top ten welterweight who could propel him into title contention.
"Right now I feel there's a guy that I want to fight before he leaves the sport and that's B.J. Penn," MacDonald told host MMA Hour host Ariel Helwani. "He's a legend and I think it'd be a really good matchup for me to have that fight in Toronto."
As of June 4, MacDonald ranks as the No. 6 welterweight in the world according to ESPN.com. Penn, on the other hand, doesn't rank in the top ten in ESPN's rankings. Other media outlets have Penn ranked between No. 9 and 15 in the division.
Why MacDonald wants to go to battle with someone who ranks lower than him is beyond me, as he doesn't have much to gain from a scrap with Penn.
With Nick Diaz out for the forseeable future due to a drug-related suspension, and Georges St-Pierre serving as his mentor and training partner, opponents who would make plenty of sense for MacDonald include Martin Kampmann and Johny Hendricks.
Instead, it appears he'll be going toe-to-toe against a guy who looked like a shell of his former self in an Oct. 2011 bout against Nick Diaz.
Penn's only win since Dec. of 2009 was a knockout of Matt Hughes at UFC 123, in a fight where the latter was clearly on the downside of his career.
"The Prodigy" is just 1-3-1 in his last five UFC appearances, and he looked every bit in his last appearance like a washed up brawler who wanted no part of the fight game anymore.
As for MacDonald, he's one of the sport's fastest rising stars at just 22 years old. The UFC surely wants to build him up as the future face of the organization, much like they did over the past two years with Jon Jones.
"Ares" has four victories in his five UFC appearances, and could be one or two victories away from his first title shot.
"It's more of the idea that he may be retiring, so how many opportunities am l going to get to fight a guy like BJ after he's gone?" MacDonald said. "I think it'd be a great fight. I know I'm going to fight all these guys in the top 10 eventually. I'm a young guy and these guys are going to be around for a long time and I know I'm going to get my shot against all these guys, and maybe I'll be missing my opportunity if I wait too long with B.J."
Penn responded on his official website "Rory, I accept your challenge!"
The fight is expected to go down on Sept. 22 at UFC 152 from Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
While I expect MacDonald to streamroll through Penn in decisive fashion, the only thing a victory would do for him is to give him exposure to the casual fan who recognizes Penn as a household name.
Much like Rich Franklin's victory over Ken Shamrock, the UFC bumps up young up-and-coming fighters by matching them up against aging legends on the downside of their careers.
Eric Holden is a lifelong UFC fan and supporter of the sport of mixed martial arts. Follow him on Twitter @ericholden.
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