If B.J. Penn had heeded the advice of UFC president Dana White, he would be sitting back in Hawaii, basking in the sun as he enjoyed the fruits of his labor, retired at the age of 34. Instead, Penn is scheduled to coach the upcoming season of The Ultimate Fighter opposite Frankie Edgar. Not only has Penn signed up for a TUF coaching stint, he’s signed on to fight Edgar at featherweight, a division Penn has never competed in.
You’re probably not alone if you’re wondering why Penn, a fighter that has been known to take a relaxed approach to conditioning, would want to fight Edgar at the 145-pound limit. It seems as if Edgar has become Penn’s “white whale.” Speaking to UFC Tonight, Penn said, “If I’m the greatest of all time, and he beat me, what does that make him?”
Edgar has defeated Penn twice. Edgar took Penn’s lightweight title at UFC 112, earning a unanimous decision victory. In the rematch, at UFC 118, Edgar successfully defended that title, again earning a unanimous decision.
After losing the title to Benson Henderson, and failing to regain the belt in a rematch with Henderson, Edgar dropped to flyweight. He is currently 1-1 in his new division, losing a title fight to champion Jose Aldo, and defeating Charles Oliveira by unanimous decision in a Fight of the Night performance at UFC 162.
Since his losses to Edgar, Penn has gone 1-2-1, defeating Matt Hughes, fighting to a draw with Jon Fitch, and then losing to Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald. Each of those fights took place at the welterweight limit of 170 pounds.
Penn detailed some of the prep work he will be doing leading up to the fight with Edgar, and how he plans on hitting the 145-pound mark:
I’m bringing in one of my old coaches, Nova Uniao founder Andre Pederneiras, who gave me my black belt, to train me again. I’m also talking to Mike Dolce to help me make weight. I’m making changes to my camp, but keeping the core for values. I’m going to train with Jose Aldo. I’m hooking up with my roots and getting some great training for this fight. I’m coming to beat Frankie Edgar.
While Penn harbors no ill will toward Edgar, he did make it clear what a victory over Edgar will mean to him and his legacy:
I got nothing wrong with Frankie. He’s a great person. I don’t think he has a bad bone in his body. All I know is he’s the one thing standing in the way of everybody saying that BJ Penn was the greatest lightweight fighter ever.
Penn and Edgar are expected to face each other in April 2014.
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