UFC 118 Preview Part 5: Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn

The UFC makes its Massachusetts debut with UFC 118, headlined by World Lightweight Champion Frankie Edgar facing former champion BJ Penn in an immediate rematch of their controversial April title fight and Hall of Famer Randy Couture taking on champion boxer James Toney in what is being billed as the “UFC vs. Boxing”. In the coming days, Inside Fights will be previewing all the fights on Saturday’s PPV, with Part Five looking at the rematch for the World Lightweight Title between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn.

World Lightweight Title Match

Frankie Edgar (c) vs. BJ Penn

The champion Frankie Edgar (12-1, 2KOs, 3Subs) defeated BJ Penn in one of the biggest upsets in sporting history, let alone UFC history. The 8-1 underdog wrested the title away from Penn using his boxing and wrestling to outpoint and outwork the champion. In winning the World Title, Edgar proved that those who first doubted whether he had the size to compete at lightweight and then questioned whether he deserved a world title shot were wrong. The former High-School and College wrestler, Edgar has had to earn his spot in the UFC the hard way, rejected by the organization for the first season of The Ultimate Fighter he was brought in as last minute opponent for Tyson Griffin. He survived an early knee bar to hand Griffin his first every defeat, the start of a three –win streak that was stopped by fellow wrestler Gray Maynard. Edgar bounced back from this defeat, putting together another three-win streak including an impressive victory over former champion Sean Sherk. Having put in the more impressive performances he earned the title shot ahead of Gray Maynard, despite the latter having the more impressive paper record. He made the most of that opportunity but must now do what no man has ever done before, earn a second victory over Penn at lightweight.

The challenger BJ Penn (15-6-1, 6KOs, 6Subs) is not only the greatest lightweight in the history of the sport but hitherto a genuine contender for best pound for pound fighter. Penn debuted in 2001 and after a shock defeat to Jens Pulver in 2002 when eight years undefeated at 155Ibs. His list of victims at lightweight is a who’s-who of the division having Caol Uno, Matt Serra, Takanori Gomi, Jens Pulver, Sean Sherk, Kenny Florian and Diego Sanchez. And while dominating his own division he made a successful foray into welterweight division when he defeated Matt Hughes for the UFC Welterweight Title against Matt Hughes in 2003. Other moves up in weight were less successful with Penn not able to bridge the gap in size against Lyoto Machida, George St. Pierre and (in the rematch) Matt Hughes. ‘The Prodigy’ combines world class ju-jitsu with the best takedown defense and boxing in MMA.

Staff Predictions

Jonathan Kirschner:In one of the most overshadowed title fights in UFC history, BJ Penn is set to try to regain his lightweight championship when he goes one-on-one with Frankie Edgar this Saturday. At UFC 112, BJ Penn openly admitted that Edgar had fought the better fight and regardless of what the fans said, Edgar walked out of the octagon as the lightweight champion. Expect BJ Penn to have killer instincts this Saturday and be aggressive right off the bell. Frankie Edgar is an overlooked champion, but even he said he has to intentions of finishing the fight this weekend. BJ Penn will simply outstrike Edgar, drop him in the third round and utilize his second to none Jiu Jitsu skills to squeeze out the win. BJ Penn to defeat Frankie Edgar via. Submission (Rear Naked Choke) in Round 3.

Will Cooling: In the rematch of their April world title fight, the champion Frankie Edgar is once again the underdog. Despite becoming the first man in eight years to defeat BJ Penn at 155Ibs, Edgar has not been accepted by fans as the best lightweight in the world. While the closeness of their fight at UFC 112 gives some credibility to argument that Edgar was an inferior fighter who caught Penn on a bad day, one cannot deny that Edgar approached his fight with Penn perfectly. His energetic out-fighting was the perfect way to cope with Penn’s boxing, stopping the Prodigy from using his jab and short-uppercut to establish the dominant Octagon Control he had enjoyed in the Diego Sanchez fight. Penn has said that he will come into the fight with a new frame of mind, reinvigorated and completely healthy. But does he have answer for Edgar’s out-fighting? If he will have to fully commit to his punches if he’s to box more aggressively, doing so would leave him open to being taken down. And the more energy he expels in an attempt to finish the fight early the more he risks later rounds by decided by Edgar’s superior conditioning and workrate. Penn may be the greatest lightweight in history but I believe that in Frankie Edgar he’s finally met his match. Frankie Edgar to defeat BJ Penn by decision.

Chris Roberts:Even at full strength and concentration UFC Lightweight champion Frankie Edgar seems to be outmatched in every category in his rematch with former champ BJ Penn. Still, somehow, the match remains intriguing and an especially difficult one to pick. Edgar strategy, though, pretty much has to look the same as last time around; stick and move, rack up points, and don’t underestimate Penn’s cardio anymore. One can only assume that Penn will be expecting exactly that and he does have knockout power and better submissions making Edgar’s chances of surviving all five rounds rather slim indeed. BJ Penn to defeat Frankie Edgar by TKO Round 3.

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