Former UFC Lightweight and Welterweight champion BJ Penn surprised more than a few when it was announced that he would he would be coming back from assumed retirement to face off with rival Frankie Edgar after they finish a stint as coaches on TUF 19.
The news was even more surprising when it was revealed that Penn would be fighting Edgar at his new weight class of 145 pounds. Penn, always thought to be more effective at Lightweight, was most recently seen in lopsided losses to Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald, so it was thought that he was simply done with making the cut down to 155.
Penn recently declared that he would be going to Brazil to train with his Brazilian Jiu-jitsu coach Andre Pederneiras, who currently represents UFC Featherweight champ Jose Aldo. That could cause an awkward situation for Penn should he defeat Edgar in his third try, but Aldo isn’t a fight that ‘The Prodigy’ is looking for:
“We’re going to Nova Uniao, Brazil and like I said, we’re not trying to let this slip away. I know it’s really weird for a lot of people in America to understand this, but I’ve always been a loyal guy to my Jiu-Jitsu King. Ever since Jose Aldo has hit the scene and just went on an absolute tear has busted everybody up, I never had any intentions of fighting Jose Aldo. At this point, if I fight Jose Aldo who am I fighting? I’m fighting Andre Pederneiras. I’m fighting the man who gave me my black belt. It’s just not a comfortable feeling for me.”- via BJPenn.com
Aldo has been long rumored to make a move up to 155, so if Penn does chose to fight on at Featherweight after his trilogy-ending bout with Edgar, a fight against Aldo could definitely be avoided. It would be hard to get that bout booked for Penn, who faces a climb up a steep hill with many contenders in front of him. Still, Penn hearkens back to the days of him ruling the division, noting that if he had his way, he would be fighting ‘The Answer’ at Lightweight once again:
“I know Frankie’s coming (prepared for the fight). You know, I really do wish this fight was at 155 lbs. Nothing to do with the weight, it’s just I really feel that Frankie hasn’t lost yet. He’s right up there, and I feel everybody says I’m supposed to be the greatest at lightweight. Frankie beat me twice. Frankie never really lost yet. Pettis is the new champ, you got all these new guys coming. Well if Frankie and me are the old guys, maybe who walks out of that ring will be one of the best lightweights of all time. We’re going to find out.”
Others may feel that Edgar hasn’t lost yet as well, but the fact remains that he just recently righted the ship against Charles Oliveira at UFC 162, ending a three-fight slide. It’s safe to say that Penn and Edgar are already two of the best Lightweights of all time, but in an ultra-competitive division, only the truly best fighters can rise to the top.
For now, Penn and Edgar will wage their war at Featherweight, and with ‘The Prodigy’ training with Aldo at Nova Uniao, Edgar will need to be on his best game. We might see a rejuvenated Penn who wants nothing more than to avenge his previous to losses to Edgar, or we may see a drawn shell of the former champion who’s exhausted from a massive weight cut. Which version of Penn will show up to the Octagon next April, and whom are you rooting for?