With the UFC Reality Series “The Ultimate Fighter’ airing it’s 18th season as we speak, and a Jon Jones Light Heavyweight title defense next on the event schedule, it may have slipped under the radar a bit that the UFC announced BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar as opposing coaches for Season 19. The two will meet at the finale for the third time, with the weight for this matchup being set for 145 lbs. Edgar has famously beaten Penn twice at 155 lbs, with the Lightweight title on the line, but those fights were over 3 years ago, and a lot has changed!
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For BJ Penn, it means that his flirtation with retirement is over. He will be away from the octagon for roughly a year by the time the fight goes down, however, and at 35 years old, the trip to 145 lbs and Featherweight for Penn will be a first.
Penn has fought from Lightweight to Heavyweight (he was about 180 lbs or so when he fought 220 lb Lyoto Machida in Japan) in his storied career but he has never been to the Featherweight class. For years, when he was a dominant Welterweight at 170 lbs, Penn resisted dropping to 155 lbs and appeared to not enjoy the cutting of weight. Career extension forced him to 155 lbs and it seems to be forcing him to drop a weight class again. Probably not a good sign for Penn.
As For Edgar, he is coming off a win that snapped his 3 fight skid and settled him in as probably the number 2 contender at Featherweight.
When a line is released at the sportbooks, look for Edgar to emerge the favorite. The fact is, he is 2-0 against Penn, and he owns all the intangible advantages over Penn in the fight. The weight class is not new to him, and he is better suited for the weight class naturally. His boxing and footwork have outclassed Penn’s vaunted stand up in 10 rounds of UFC fighting, and there is no reason to think that this will change.