What’s Worse than Fighting BJ Penn? Fighting Him Again
Preview by Brady Crytzer
Though the co-feature of the night is garnering most of the attention, the main event of UFC 118 is an epic rematch between former titlist BJ Penn and new champion Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. Edgar was a heavy underdog in their first contest at UFC 112, and many pundits wrote him off…they’re doing it again. Can BJ Penn fight up to his believed potential and regain his world lightweight title? Or will former Clarion University wrestling star Frankie Edgar steal the show and stake his claim yet again?
Striking: Throughout his career BJ Penn has proven to challenge traditional values that support the superiority of hard training against natural ability. In his 2007 bout against Sean Sherk, Penn dazzled observers by decimating the face the former champion’s face with piercing jabs. In 2008, Penn surprised onlookers once more by nearly knocking out challenger Joe Stevenson with an uppercut. One thing is for sure, if there was ever a person born to fight, it’s Hawaii’s Penn. On the flip side you have the UFC world lightweight champion Edgar. A former college wrestler at Clarion University but a scrapper at heart, Edgar utilizes his developing boxing repertoire to keep larger opponents at bay but lacks any transferrable knockout power. He often finds himself at a reach disadvantage as a smaller man, so closing the distance is a must for the native of Tom’s River, NJ.
To land with force on Penn, Edgar must close the distance to connect with short punches. Penn’s naturally stronger jab however will keep the champ at bay and make him pay in the process.
Grappling: Although both men are accomplished grapplers in their respective sports, there is a reason that Penn has held multiple titles, including the feather of being the first American to ever win a grappling title in Brazil. Time and again Penn has displayed an unearthly ability to bend and stretch in ways thought to be impossible. These traits, along with lifetime training, make for an extremely dangerous world titlist. Despite these facts, Penn has been relying heavily on his striking as of late. Make no mistake about it; he is a threat to submit any man in his division at any moment from his back or on top. Edgar is an NCAA wrestling standout, but his heart is bigger than his trophy case.
Penn’s submission arsenal and natural size advantage will be more telling than Edgar’s submission defense.
How They Match Up: BJ Penn is an interesting character, particularly in rematches. Upon first battling a challenger Penn will stay on his feet and show off his effective boxing abilities…that is until he loses.
Granted we haven’t seen it happen often, but when Penn gets a second crack at a fighter that has defeated him he tends to go back to the basics. BJ Penn can submit Frankie Edgar with ease, and his boldness got the better of him in April…it won’t happen again.
Watch for Penn to utilize his jab early and soften up the champion, but when the moment is right “The Prodigy” will take Edgar to the mat and put him away with a rear naked choke. Edgar is a tough kid and always in good shape, so watch for the finish midway through the fight.
The only worse than fighting BJ Penn once is fighting BJ Penn twice…especially when you have already beaten him.