Underdog and BJ Penn in the lightweight division are typically two things that aren’t necessarily synonomous. However at UFC 118 the lightweight title will be on the line when “The Answer” Frank Edgar (12-1-0) faces off against “The Prodigy” BJ Penn (15-6-1) and Penn won’t be the one defending it. Penn lost the title in a shocking five round decision lost against Edgar when the two first met at UFC 112 admist a small wave of controversy mostly spawned by Penn believing that he didn’t necessarily lose every round.
Before meeting Frank Edgar in April, BJ Penn was on a five fight winning streak in the UFC lightweight division. He was arguably the best lightweight in world, and some will contend that losing to Edgar did not change this. Penn has the ability to make his opponents look amateurish similar to how some say Anderson Silva makes his opponents look. Penn uses superior handspeed and footwork in order keep his opponents at bay and typically outstrikes whomever he steps in the ring with. His flexibility and proficiency in Brazilian jiu jitsu makes most opponents unwilling to go to the ground with him. When BJ Penn is healthy it’s difficult to determine any lightweight fighter that is able to beat him.
In order for BJ Penn to win his fight on Saturday he’s going to have to come in 100% healthy. He’s also going to have outbox Edgar and it might even be to his advantage to put the fight on the ground at some point to establish dominance in all aspects of the fight. Typically Penn is content to sit back and counter-punch with his opponents and thwart their attempts to take him down, however on Saturday I think he would best service himself by attacking Edgar and moving forward and attempting to keep him off balance.
Penn entered the first match-up a little apprehensive with an apparent knee injury that prevented him from performing at his peak. This is not an excuse for Penn because Edgar had a dynamic performance and was the better man in their first encounter. If Penn can show up Saturday at his best, I have no doubt he will not only win the fight, but make it a short night for Frank Edgar.