Much has been made of “The Prodigy” BJ Penn’s storied MMA career. At 13-6, Penn has won titles in two weight classes and soundly defeated some of the sport’s best fighters.
However, when Penn dropped a decision to current light weight champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar (12-1) at UFC 112, the Hilo, Hawaii fighter received another career wake up call.
Going into the headlining bout, Penn was on a tear through the lightweight division, dominating the likes of Joe Stevenson, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. During the fight round fight with Edgar, Penn was routinely beaten to the punch and outhustled. All three judges scored the bout for Edgar 50-45, 49-46 and 48-47.
Hearing Edgar’s name announced sent Penn back into a reflective mode.
“When I first started fighting, I thought I was god’s gift to fighting,” Penn said. “I thought I’d go 100-0 with 100 knockouts. I can’t believe I have six losses it just blows me away. Every time you have a loss, you take a different path and it reminds you of why you started in the first place.”
Penn will have a chance to remember why he started come Saturday night when he meets the man who took his title just six months ago. And unlike the first bout, Penn doesn’t plan to let the sequel run time be 25 minutes.
“I think every fighter should have that same motivation to want to finish,” Penn explained when asked about his preferred method of victory. “It puts more money in all our pickets and makes everybody happy all the way around.”
One thing that annoys “The Prodigy” is the increasing number of decisions in the sport, which he credits to fighters who don’t come to fight.
“There’s a lot of controversy with people taking the ‘fight’ out of Ultimate Fighting and going to decision and they feel happy with that,” he explained. “If that’s the way they want to do things that’s the way they do it. For me, I’ve always been about the fight and I’m more of a fighter than an athlete. I am not an athlete… I vote to keep the ‘fight’ in ‘Ultimate Fighting.’”
Frankie Edgar knows he’ll have his hands full with Penn in Saturday night’s main event. In addition to being so close to his native New Jersey, the champion must contend with a resurging Penn. Rematches don’t always bode well for the champion, and given the new piece of hardware he sports to the ring, it’s hard to believe Edgar is feeling like the underdog.
“I still hold BJ in high regard,” Edgar said. “He’ a legend in this sport and he’s the greatest lightweight of all time. Before the last fight, it forced me to bring the best out of me. Iron sharpens iron and BJ brings the best out of me.”
Edgar, 28, had little time to even think about the rest of the stacked 155-pound division following his upset victory.
“[UFC President] Dana [White] called me the Monday or Tuesday right after I got back from Abu Dhabi and asked if I’d fight BJ again and I said yes.”
Defeating Penn once was an amazing feat. Making lightning strike twice will be nothing short of spectacular. For that, “The Answer” will rely heavily on his corner to help him solve the evolving puzzle that is BJ Penn.
“I’m not a huge strategy guy. [My coaches] see the areas that I need to work on or see the things that my opponent may do that I can capitalize on.”
In the end, winning will be statement enough for Edgar. And if that means putting the fight back in the hands of the judges, he’s ok with that too.
“I can’t worry about what the judges are going to do,” Edgar said on the possibility of another decision. “I just have to go in, implement my game plan and try to sway the judges my way.”