Five Reasons To Be Happy For B.J. Penn’s Return

By Roy Billington

On Wednesday night’s edition of UFC Tonight, UFC insider Ariel Helwani reported that “The Prodigy” BJ Penn would be returning from his self-imposed sabbatical to coach season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter against previous foe Frankie “The Answer” Edgar. Many were left underwhelmed at Penn’s TUF return, but in this article we’ll look at five positives of the decision:

(1) Penn Back As A Coach

Season 5 of “The Ultimate Fighter” was one of the most enjoyable of the series to date. Who can forget when Penn punked Jens Pulver during the team selection by asking anyone who wanted to be on his team to raise their hands?

However, one major difference in this season of TUF will be that Penn is a big underdog, and it is blatantly obvious that most fighters will want to train with Frankie Edgar, as he is perceived as a much harder worker and will bring in a stronger coaching staff. But who knows, BJ could bring in Marv Marinovich and have his fighters doing all sorts of crazy strength and conditioning.

(2) The Potential Cast of The Ultimate Fighter

I find it really interesting that the UFC has booked two guys from the featherweight division to coach middleweights and light heavyweights, but what intrigues me the most are the potential cast members both Edgar and Penn will have at their disposal.

At the tryouts for the series in Indianapolis prior to UFC Fight Night 27, many highly hyped and well-known fighters appeared. Arguably the pick of the bunch was Cage Warriors’ reigning welterweight champion Cathal Pendred, who tried out alongside his teammate, former middleweight champion Chris Fields. Both guys come from Europe’s top team SBG and will be looking to follow in their teammate Conor McGregor‘s footsteps by becoming household names in the UFC. Other notable attendees were Lyman Good and Dhiego Lima, who are both known for their fan friendly styles.

(3) Penn At Featherweight

I was one of the many that questioned Penn’s sanity when he decided to fight Rory MacDonald at welterweight, but the former lightweight and welterweight champion is known for his toughness, and this mentality is often a hindrance, as his ego causes him to call out fighters for fights that he would clearly be at a disadvantage in.

I was of the belief that Penn was a natural for the lightweight division, and on numerous occasions I lobbied for him to make the drop back down to 155. I even asked him in person, but at the time he believed he’d struggle to cut 15 pounds, so I imagine it’ll be a struggle for him to drop the 25 needed to make featherweight.

I’m now excited to see how Penn’s power translates to featherweight. I’ll also be excited to see whether he can make the class at all, but I know Penn was practising a trial cut over the summer. Most assumed it was to 155 pounds, but one can bet that “The Prodigy” was making his way to 145 pounds before he accepted a fight there.

(4) The Quest to Become The First Ever 3-Division Champion

On January 31st, 2001, Penn faced Matt Hughes in a bout that many expected to be a one- sided beating. At the time, Matt Hughes was the baddest man on the planet in his weight class, and Penn was a bloated lightweight who jumped up to face the champion of a division with no contenders. What transpired that night is one of the most memorable moments in our young sport, as the underdog Penn came out like a man possessed, and it seemed as though Penn was the only person who wasn’t told he was meant to lose. It took Penn just 4:39 to take down Hughes and secure a rear naked choke to become the UFC Welterweight Champion.

Fast forward almost 4 years to the day, and Penn was fighting Joe “Daddy” Stevenson for the vacant lightweight belt. Against Stevenson, Penn was in top form. He dominated from the outset and cut Stevenson bad with an elbow, which left blood squirting out of his forehead like a broken faucet. Just like in his bout against Hughes, BJ relied on his trusty rear naked choke to earn him the victory.

The featherweight kingpin at present is Jose Aldo, who Penn wouldn’t fight, as he has represented Nova Uniao in his BJJ days. However, there has been talk of Aldo making the move to lightweight, and I believe that with a victory over Edgar, we could easily see Penn fighting for the vacant title.

(5) Penn vs. Edgar 3

People have a warped view on the past. In hindsight, people believe Edgar dominated Penn twice, and this is simply not true. Penn clearly outworked Edgar in their first fight at UFC 112; Fightmetric scored it 49-47 for Penn. I am willing to concede that in the rematch Edgar absolutely dominated Penn, but in my opinion the rivalry should be at one victory apiece heading into this third fight, and fans need to remember just how good BJ Penn is when he’s not at 170 pounds.

For a dissenting viewpoint, check out: Five Questions About Frankie Edgar vs. B.J. Penn .



Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn

Click the stars to rate your anticipation for this fight.

What Do You Think of This Fight/Event?