Frankie Edgar vs. BJ Penn III: Full Head-to-Toe Breakdown
On Saturday, Chris Weidman will look to defend his middleweight title against Lyoto Machida, and Ronda Rousey will look to defend her title against Alexis Davis.
The next day, Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn will meet for the third time, following their coaching gig on The Ultimate Fighter.
Penn and Edgar first fought at UFC 112, where Edgar won Penn's lightweight title by unanimous decision. Penn was granted an immediate rematch, and Edgar won a second unanimous decision, and he was more dominant than the first fight.
After the second fight, Penn went 1-2-1 before semi-retiring in December 2012. Edgar would go 2-3-1, including a drop to the featherweight division.
Their fight on Sunday will be Penn's featherweight debut, while it will be Edgar's third outing in the division, as well as his third fight with Penn. Let's see who's got the edge in their trilogy fight.
In his first two fights with Penn, Edgar showed a clear advantage in the striking department. He was able to hit Penn and get out of the way before Penn was able to counter.
The one knock on Edgar in the stand-up department is that he has shown he is susceptible to being rocked. In his second and third fights with Gray Maynard, Maynard was able to rock him multiple times.
Penn has definitely got knockout power, as seven of his 16 career wins have come by (T)KO, but Edgar's got the definite edge in the stand-up game.
Grappling and Submissions
Frankie Edgar is by no means a bad grappler, but he's no BJ Penn.
Edgar wrestled in Division I, where he qualified for Nationals all four years at Clarion University. In addition, Edgar earned his black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu back in December. He has only three submissions in his career, the most recent one coming in 2009.
BJ Penn never wrestled in college, but he does also have a black belt in BJJ, which he earned 14 years ago. It only took him three years to earn the black belt, which is an extraordinarily brief amount of time. In addition, Penn has scored six victories by submission, including ones against Kenny Florian, Matt Hughes and more.
Penn has had far more time as a top-level grappler and is arguably one of the best grapplers to ever fight in the UFC.
Frankie has already fought and beaten Penn twice. He has a mental advantage knowing that he has and can beat Penn. In addition, he has been more active and has fought far more recently than Penn. Edgar has almost every factor on his side going into this fight, and that's going to be a huge advantage come fight night.
BJ hasn't fought since December 2012. His last two fights before his semi-retirement were absolute beatdowns where he was lucky to make it to the final bell. It doesn't look promising for him going into this fight.
However, this will be Penn's first-ever fight at featherweight. He will have had to get into better shape than in the past to prepare for this fight, and that would be an advantage. In addition, if he has been working, and improving in the 19 months since his last fight, then we may see an entirely new BJ Penn. Because of the length of time that Penn has been out, his possible performance will be a huge question mark until the fight takes place.
Everything in this fight points to a victory for Frankie Edgar.
He's already beaten Penn twice, he's fought more recently and more often than Penn, and he's still in his prime. Penn has been out a long time, is 35 years old and has been fighting since 2001.
If we see a new, motivated and better BJ Penn, then he'll have every opportunity to win this fight. If we see anything except a highly motivated Penn, expect Edgar to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Frankie Edgar defeats BJ Penn by unanimous decision.