Choosing opponents is a trait unique to combat sports, particularly MMA. The only control the Boston Celtics had in who they would face in the NBA playoffs is that their their seed was decided by their regular season record. Once the seed was set, the Celtics had no choice but to play the Miami Heat. They couldn't turn down LeBron James and Company and say, "Nah, I want to play the Oklahoma City Thunder, now!"
But in MMA, if fighters play their cards right, they can push, whine, cajole, or just ask for a certain opponent. Ronda Rousey was able to get her fight against Miesha Tate via combination of armbars and callouts. Frank Mir raising his hand after Alistair Overeem was not licensed for his bout with Junior dos Santos earned him an ill-fated title shot.
With that in mind, both Johnny Hendricks and Rory MacDonald have called out the opponent they want to see on the other side of the Octagon.
For MacDonald, it's the seemingly retired B.J. Penn. MacDonald told the MMA Hour he wanted to face Penn while he could.
"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?" he 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, who recently shot down Josh Koscheck's hopes for a fight, accepted the challenge from the 13-1 MacDonald. On Penn's website, he posted this simple message.
"Rory, I accept your challenge!"
Their bout will reportedly happen at UFC 152 in Toronto.
Perhaps Johny Hendricks was inspired by MacDonald. After learning he will have to fight Martin Kampmann to get a shot at the UFC welterweight belt, Hendricks turned his sights on interim belt holder Carlos Condit. On Wednesday, he tweeted:
No more waiting @CarlosCondit. Let's see who the #1 Contender really is.
Condit won the interim belt after his bout with Georges St-Pierre was shelved because of GSP's torn ACL. However, Condit has indicated he wants to wait to fight GSP and the chance to unite the belts. GSP is aiming for a November return. It's the beginning of June, and both Hendricks and Condit are healthy. Hendricks wants to both stay active and get a shot to move up a rung or two on the welterweight ladder. It's a fight that makes sense. Will Hendricks be able to get the fight he wants? Tell us in the comments, on Facebook or on Twitter.