UFC legend B.J. Penn is hoping that his surprising move to the featherweight ranks will allow him to finally get his revenge this weekend on chief rival Frankie Edgar. The two meet in Las Vegas in their trilogy fight after serving as coaches on Season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter. Their five-round main event clash at the TUF 19 Finale will be The Prodigy’s first-ever in the 145-pound division.
Penn certainly doesn’t have much more to prove inside the Octagon, as he is one of only two UFC fighters to have ever won titles in two different weight classes. He shocked Matt Hughes to win the welterweight title at UFC 46 and would later claim the vacant lightweight title at UFC 80 by submitting Joe Stevenson. He was a dominant 155-pound titlist making successful defenses against Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. His last Octagon appearance was a lopsided unanimous decision loss in 2012 in a welterweight matchup against Rory MacDonald.
The 35-year old Hawaiian has made a substantial weight cut in the hopes that the third time will finally prove to be the charm. Edgar stunned Penn at UFC 112 to claim the title and would prove that it was no fluke by defeating him in their rematch at UFC 118. Penn is a big underdog heading into this clash as not only is he fighting at an unfamiliar weight class, but is just 1-4-1 in his last six appearances.
The No. 3-ranked Edgar has made a solid transition to the featherweight ranks after losing back-to-back decisions in lightweight title fights against Benson Henderson. In his first 145-pound appearance he gave featherweight champion Jose Aldo all he could handle at UFC 156 but was on the wrong end of a unanimous decision verdict. Edgar’s most recent effort was a unanimous decision victory over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162. That exciting contest against the talented Brazilian earned a Fight of the Night bonus.
Edgar is no stranger to fight-night bonuses having racked up eight of them during his exciting Octagon tenure. His trilogy with Gray Maynard remains one of the most memorable in UFC history and he now looks to make it three straight victories against Penn to end their trilogy in emphatic fashion. The Answer possesses tremendous lateral movement, striking accuracy and incredible toughness.
Penn will need to turn back the clock to achieve success this weekend. While you can never count him out because of his impressive resume, his best days appear to be behind him. He should be highly motivated to get the job done, but the big question revolves around how his body will respond in his first UFC appearance at 145-pounds.
There’s plenty at stake for both talented former champions heading into this contest. Edgar still has legitimate hopes of once again capturing UFC gold, while a Penn victory would serve as sweet revenge. Another loss for The Prodigy would likely spell the end of the line. UFC President Dana White has stated that he would urge Penn to retire if he suffers another defeat at the hands of Edgar.
Rick LaFitte is an MMA Writer for Rant Sports