Penn To Featherweight Intriguing, But What Does It Do For Edgar?

ufc-on-fox-5 The mixed martial arts world was dealt a shocker tonight when it was announced on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight that former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn will return to the Octagon as a featherweight. In his 145-pound debut he’ll have a re-rematch against Frankie Edgar in early 2014 after the two coach season 19 of “The Ultimate Fighter.” It’s a trilogy fight, and even though Edgar won the pair’s two previous encounters at UFC 112 and UFC 118, the first fight was considered by many to be a robbery and so a third fight between these two isn’t the worst idea in the world, even if it doesn’t necessarily make sense based on the rankings, where Edgar is currently a top-five featherweight and Penn is no where to be found. Since the announcement earlier this evening, it seems as though the majority of fans and media don’t like the fight, with many saying they don’t see the point of Edgar fighting Penn since he’s already beaten him twice and with others saying that Penn at 145 pounds is one of the worst ideas they’ve ever heard. Personally, I’m super intrigued by Penn’s cut to featherweight. While I would have been against a trilogy fight between these two at 155 pounds, I think at 145 it’s a very different match-up then when they fought at lightweight twice back in 2010, and that’s why I’m genuinely excited for it. If Penn goes into the cage and knocks out Edgar, I expect him to be awarded the next title shot at 145 pounds even though it will be his first fight at the weight. The reason for that is because Penn is still the biggest draw in the division despite the face that he is 1-4-1 in his last six fights. The truth is, although his last few performances leave much to be desired, he’s still fondly remembered by fans for his legendary fights against guys like Matt Hughes, Georges St-Pierre and Sean Sherk during the mid-2000s, and there’s no doubt in my mind the casual fans will be buying a PPV that features Penn fighting for the 145-pound strap. In fact, I believe that Penn is already the biggest draw at featherweight despite the fact he hasn’t even fought in the division yet, because, and let’s face it, the average MMA fan doesn’t care about the rest of the featherweights. That includes UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, and it’s been proven with weak pay-per-view buyrates on previous cards featherweights headlined. So I totally see why the UFC would ask Penn to make the cut to 145 — I highly doubt this was his idea — as they are no doubt salivating about a Penn KO over Edgar that will set up a bigger fight with Aldo or whoever else is the champ at 145 by the time late 2014 rolls around. But while I think the fight makes sense for Penn, I’m curious as to what it does for Edgar. Even if you’re one of the many who thought Penn was robbed in their first matchup, on paper it’s a win for Edgar and he definitely showed in the rematch that he was the better fighter, at least at 155 pounds. So now, after losing a razor-close decision to Aldo at UFC 156 and rebounding with a win over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162, he’s back to facing Penn. In a way it’s almost like a step backwards for “The Answer.” What does a third win by Edgar over Penn do? I’m not sure. But I’m assuming the UFC must have given him some sort of monetary incentive to take this fight, and it’s possible White has promised Edgar another title shot should he get past Penn yet again. The fight is still months away, and Penn still has to make 145 pounds — and the weight cut itself may be the hardest part of this fight for him — but I have a feeling by the time this bout comes around that many of the haters will have changed their tune, and I think Edgar vs. Penn III will be of the bigger fights the UFC will put on in the first half of 2014.

Written by Adam Martin.

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