Two fights in the UFC and Canadian Nick (The Quiet Assassin) Penner has gone Down Under for both of them. What are the chances?
Then again, the Edmonton-based light-heavyweight knows all about beating the odds.
The 32-year-old survived a parking lot shooting in 2007, taking bullets in the hip and arm.
A friend owned a security company and called him in for a day.
“According to the cops, there was a planned hit for somebody,” said Penner, who had just got out of the military at the time.
“And I guess you could say mistaken identity is a bit of a bitch. They thought it was me, so they lit me up in a parking lot.”
Doctors were amazed that the damage wasn’t worse.
“It just missed so many vital spots,” said Penner, a native of Blumenort, Man. “So I got really really lucky.”
He was able to leave hospital the next day.
But the injury delayed his pro fighting debut — which was scheduled for a week later — and he has had injury issues ever since as a result of the bullet tearing through his hip flexor.
“I was a little bit younger back then, I guess you could say a little dumber back then, and I didn’t bother rehabbing anything and I’m paying the price for it now.”
He missed all of 2010 because of knee surgery. And in July, an injury forced him to miss a UFC fight with Tom DeBlass.
A healthy Penner (12-2) faces American Cody (Donnybrook) Donovan on Friday night (Canadian time) on the undercard of a televised UFC card from the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Broadbeach, Australia.
Donovan (7-3) was a late replacement for the injured Eddie Mendez, who had replaced Ednaldo Oliveira. Penner had stepped in earlier for fellow Canadian Krzysztof (The Polish Experiment) Soszynski.
The 31-year-old Donovan, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt who trains out of the Grudge Training Center in Denver, has won three straight including bouts in Bellator and Instinct MMA. He is a graduate of the Art Institute of Colorado with a degree in media arts.
The card, the UFC’s fourth in Australia and the first outside of Sydney, is the live finale of the “The Ultimate Fighter: The Smashes,” an Australia versus United Kingdom version of the UFC’s long-running reality series.
The card is headlined by a matchup of the two coaches: England’s Ross (The Real Deal) Pearson and Australia’s George Sotiropoulos.
The winners of the show will be determined on the Gold Coast with Brad Scott of the United Kingdom and Australian-based Kiwi Robert Whittaker meeting at welterweight and Colin (The Freakshow) Fletcher and Norman (Stormin) Parke squaring off in an all-U.K. lightweight final.
Penner lost his UFC debut by first-round TKO to Australian Anthony (The Hippo) Perosh in March on the televised Alves-Kampmann card.
But he had no problem making the long trip again.
“I love Australia,” he said. “I love it out here. It’s sort of Canada, it’s like fighting in front of my home country.”
He has made changes on this trip, however.
“I’ve handled the time change a little better this time,” he said. “I did just a couple of things to prepare myself a little bit better.
“It’s not a big deal. And it’s nice to be out of the snowstorm, right?”
Penner left Canada a week ago Thursday, arriving on Saturday after a route that took him from Edmonton to San Francisco to Auckland to the Gold Coast.
“I managed to get a bit of sleep on the plane. It wasn’t that bad,” he said.