Former multi-divisional UFC champion B.J. Penn has gone through a very disappointing run over his last six bouts, obtaining a less-than-stellar 1-4-1 record. “The Prodigy” didn’t fight in 2013 after getting battered in a welterweight bout against Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 5 in December 2012. Penn stepped away from the sport for the time being, but as has become the norm, he was soon to return.
It was announced last September that Penn would return to the UFC as one coach of The Ultimate Fighter 19, with his opposing coach and opponent set to be bitter rival Frankie Edgar. “The Answer” moved down to featherweight in early 2013, so Penn thought it best to follow Edgar down to 145 pounds to take care of his unfinished business.
Edgar famously took the belt from Penn at UFC 112 in a huge upset. “The Prodigy” was thought to be nearly invincible during his three straight lightweight title defenses, but Edgar proved it was no fluke by besting Penn once again at UFC 118.
Penn announced he would head to Nova Uniao in Brazil to train with his BJJ mentor Andre Pederneiras. The team is home to both UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo and UFC bantamweight champion Renan Barao. Aldo and Barao will defend their belts on the same card at UFC 169 on February 1.
But Penn has a while to wait before he gets his chance at revenge. He and Edgar are rumored to throw down later in the summer, but nothing official has been announced. Still, Penn is apparently taking the weight cut seriously, tweeting a photo of himself looking in shape with Aldo and Barao:
— BJ PENN (@bjpenndotcom) January 16, 2014
While “The Prodigy” is looking good, we’ve seen him look great and get beat before. There’s no questioning his legacy as a great UFC champion; that will never change. It’s just that the talented UFC featherweight division may have passed him by at this point. Penn can prove that totally wrong by scoring the huge upset over Edgar, of course. He stated his plans were to defeat Edgar convincingly and get right back in the mix.
To do it, Penn’s going to have to show up with his head in the game. Not knowing whether he truly wants to keep fighting may be haunting Penn when he does decide to climb into the cage, and a noncommittal effort will certainly not do against the No. 3-ranked Edgar.
Penn should be in an excellent environment heading into the bout, training with two UFC champions and the man who helped him obtain his BJJ black belt in record time. Will that be enough to get back on track and become a force in a new weight class? Or will Penn drop another big fight to top-level opposition?