Last night (Sun., July 6, 2014) longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) rivals Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn went to war in the featherweight main event of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19 Finale from Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Watch the video replay here.
Former lightweight champion Edgar had been out of action since his win over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162 one year ago to the day. "The Answer" still had the reputation as one of the toughest fighters in all of mixed martial arts (MMA), but the incredibly controversial nature of many of his recent bouts left questions about his fighting style.
Fortunately for him, he brought the advantage of having defeated Penn twice in a changing of the guard back in 2010.
As long Edgar had been gone, decorated former lightweight and welterweight champion Penn had been absent from the cage for even longer, his most recent effort a one-sided decision loss to Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX 5 in late 2012.
"The Prodigy" was likely facing retirement with a loss, so the stakes couldn't have been higher for the accomplished legend. When the pivotal main event was finished, Edgar proved that he is now simply on another level than Penn.
Penn snapped a few shots to start the fight. Edgar fought back with a solid combination. Penn came in close with a knee and ate a leg kick as the fighters traded shots. Edgar got a takedown and rose up to land a low kick before jumping into Penn's guard.
He landed a big right and went back to his feet. "The Answer" kicked Penn's leg repeatedly as Herb Dean stood up the fighters. Edgar snapped a hard right to close out a decisive first round.
Edgar landed a good shot to start the second. His movement level was high as he missed a takedown. Edgar blasted an overhand right, but Penn fought back with a crisp combo. Edgar went for another takedown, and this time it was successful. He scored again from top position, landing multiple elbows and ground and pound to end a dominant second round.
Edgar snapped a kick and two combinations to kick off the third round right. Penn wasn't putting out enough strikes and he ate a solid left hook followed by a big head kick. Edgar put Penn on the ground with a beautiful trip, and "The Prodigy" began absorbing a bevy of brutal elbows that left him open and bleeding badly.
Edgar pinned Penn's right arm and rained down punches and elbows, prompting referee Herb Dean to step in and stop the fight.
The New Jersey-born "Answer" looked nothing short of amazing in scoring his first UFC finish since a fourth round technical knockout of Gray Maynard at UFC 136 in October 2011.
He showed a ton of class after the bout by saying it almost felt bad to finish off a legend like Penn, but he proved he is near the top of the featherweight division with the bludgeoning win.
"The Answer" called out for a title shot or something close to it.
With UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo injured and on the sidelines, Edgar could be set for a bout against No. 2-ranked Cub Swanson, who recently beat Jeremy Stephens at UFC Fight Night 44, is the bout that makes the most sense for Edgar, and it would be a great one.
Unfortunately, it's time for the all-time great "Prodigy" to hang up his gloves. Dana White said it would be if he lost to Edgar, and indeed the former multi-class champion admitted his time had come.
He has nothing left to prove, and while it was sad to see him go out like he did, he's left an undeniable mark on the sport of MMA that will be remembered forever. Penn was a game fighter that never quit, even when it was clear that the odds were stacked against him. He's a legend in every sense of the term.
Frankie Edgar used the time spent on TUF 19 to improve his skills, putting forth one of his most dominant efforts to defeat BJ Penn for a third time. Just how close is ‘The Answer' to yet another UFC title shot?