Morning Report: Rory MacDonald Challenges BJ Penn, UFC Joins Forces With EA Sports

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

This is how these things start. B.J. Penn cracks opens the door by publicly waffling. The UFC catches winds of it and sends Josh Koscheck to try and stir something up. The first public call-out hits, and just like that, the wheels are in motion.

By then it doesn't matter when Penn rejects the challenge, because how much can a rejection matter when it's that half-hearted and waffley? So with an open invitation, 22-year-old ultra-prospect Rory MacDonald (aka, one of Penn's rival's closest friends) comes along and sweetens the pot.

"There's a guy that I want to fight before he leaves the sport, and that's B.J. Penn," MacDonald slyly declared on yesterday's The MMA Hour. "That's a guy I really want to fight. I respect him a lot. He's a legend and I think it'd be a really good matchup for me to have that fight in Toronto.

"So we'll see if he accepts."

Well, if we're being realistic with ourselves, he probably won't accept. But that's not the part that matters. What matters is that this could potentially be another checkpoint in the race that will inevitably bring Penn back from vacation. Every time we hear from him, which is almost weekly at this point, he sounds less and less like a man who's done, and more and more like a man who'd be inclined to jump back into the fray if the offer was sweet enough.

MacDonald probably isn't that offer, because chiefly among a long list of reasons, Penn doesn't strike me as the type to come back just to be a gatekeeper. But that offer could be coming sometime soon, and with both welterweight and lightweight overflowing with names and contenders, the Hawaiian may find himself with a hell of a marquee on his hands when it does.

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5 MUST-READ STORIES

Rory MacDonald wants to fight B.J. Penn. Up-and-coming welterweight star Rory MacDonald called out former champ B.J. Penn on Monday's episode of The MMA Hour, issuing a challenge to the legend for the UFC's September 22 Toronto card.

UFC roster cuts. TUF winner Efrain Escudero, former WEC champ Steve Cantwell, and Dongi Yang, Jeff Curran and Kamal Shalorus were among the 10 fighters to be released from the UFC after having their profiles removed from UFC.com.

The MMA hour. Ariel Helwani and The MMA Hour are back with another jam-packed show, featuring a lineup of Mike Chiesa, Kenny Florian, Rory MacDonald, Patrick Cote and Nate Marquardt.

UFC, EA partnership. In a surprise move, the UFC announced a partnership with old rival EA Sports to develop a new UFC video game series at the Electronic Entertainment Expo.

TUF Live Finale salaries, suspensions. In the aftermath of Friday's UFC event, The Ultimate Fighter Live Finale, the Nevada State Athletic Commission released official listings of fighter salaries and medical suspensions.

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MEDIA STEW

If you have no idea what the heck an EA is, and haven't touched a video game since E.T. for the Atari 2600, then just think of it this way: If THQ = Spike TV, then EA Sports = FOX. Hence, you can understand Dana White's excitement at E3.

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The back catalog of DREAM is littered with classics, so after all the bad news, it seems fitting to look back at Shinya Aoki gruesomely snapping an arm then prancing around flipping the bird to everyone within 500 feet. (Props to reader @mma_fan1 for the find, via CagePotato.)

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Remember not too long ago when we brought you Anderson Silva's Steven Seagal showdown? Now its blooper reel has been released, and, well, here's Anderson Silva jumping around pretending to be Uma Thurman.

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Check out a heap of pros predicting the winner of Tito Ortiz vs. Forrest Griffin III, if only to hear Dan Hardy's pronunciation of "Tito," which is probably the greatest thing ever. (HT: MMA Mania)

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EA SPORTS UFC '13

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SAY IT AIN'T SO

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I'LL BRING THE BATH SALTS

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CHOOSE WISELY

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FIGHT ANNOUNCEMENTS

Announced yesterday (Monday, June 4, 2012):

- UFC 149: Bibiano Fernandes (11-3) vs. Roland Delorme (8-1)

- UFC 149: Chris Clements (11-4) in against Siyar Bahadurzada (21-4-1)

- UFC 150: Nik Lentz (21-5-2) vs. Eiji Mitsuoka (18-8-2)

- UFC 150: Dennis Bermudez (8-3) vs. Tom Hayden (8-1)

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FANPOST OF THE DAY

Today's Fanpost of the Day sees dpk875 try to dispel some of the misconceptions you may have about 145: Featherweight - A Division for the Next Decade

A few weeks ago I wrote "Light-Heavyweight - A Pending Crisis" that detailed how the UFC LHW division is aging rapidly, and there are not many young prospects emerging to fill the void. Now I want to focus a division that I feel is going to provide some of the most excitement over the next five to ten years, Featherweight.

Overall Depth:

Basically, "this ain't your Daddy's WEC", the Current UFC Featherweight division has over 50 fighters and is only behind Welterweight, and Lightweight when it comes to quantity of fighters. But it is not just the quantity, it is the young talent either in their prime, or quickly approaching it. Where the UFC Light-Heavyweight division only has five fighters under the age of 30 in the whole division, 8 of the top 10 Featherweights in UFC are under the age 30 (Aldo, Hioki, Mendes, TKZ, Poirier, Koch, Nunes, and Bartimus) and more talent is coming, but we will look at that in a minute.

Elite Champion:

The Champion Jose Aldo is 25 years old, and a dynamic force with an amazing highlight reel of finishes, and fights. He is listed in the top 5 of every Pound for Pound list, and does not seem to be slowing down. Despite his level of dominance, he is not going to run out of challengers anytime soon. There are the constant rumors that he will move up to Lightweight, and I would not be surprised if he does, but this division will still be just fine even if he moves.

Serious challengers:

There is currently a growing line for title shots, with Eirk Koch standing at the head of the line. He may have jumped over a few people to get the title shot, due to timing, but he will certainly put on an exciting fight while it last. Chan Sung Jung (The Korean Zombie) is next in line. He has made tremendous strides over his last three fights to put himself in this position, and his win over Dustin Poirier was a brilliant performance on the feet, and ground. Standing behind him is the man who actually turned down a title shot to get one more fight in, and long considered the second best Featherweight in the world, Hatsu Hioki.

Found something perfect for the Morning Report? Just hit me on Twitter @shaunalshatti and we'll include it in tomorrow's post.

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