Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) lightweight and welterweight champion, B.J. Penn, is getting back into the Octagon in 2014 following the conclusion of The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 19, which marks the Hawaiian's return to the combat sports reality show following a 2007 coaching gig opposite Jens Pulver.
A lot has changed since then.
Penn (16-9) will be dropping to featherweight in an attempt to cleanse his palate of the sour taste left by two decision losses to Frankie Edgar, when both he and "The Answer" were ruling the roost at 155 pounds. "The Prodigy" eventually moved back up to welterweight, but was knocked around by Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald in consecutive fights.
Now it's time to get back on that aging horse and try again.
Speaking of elder statesman, Penn has made an unusual choice for his wrestling coach, as Mark Coleman has signed on to help teach a group of up-and-coming mixed martial arts (MMA) fighters the ins and outs of life on the mats. And while "The Hammer" has the credentials to get the job done, it's hard to overlook the obvious.
Coleman will be 49 by the time filming gets underway and he's already had total hip replacement surgery.
Considering the current crop of active fighters who also boast experience as an Olympian, like Daniel Cormier and Yoel Romero, among others, it's at least fair to ask the question as to why Penn would exhume the brittle hall of famer in the new-look UFC.
Coleman has the answer (via FOX Sports):
"Me and BJ Penn have been friends since the beginning of this thing, and I consider him a great friend. Hopefully he respects my ability to coach some wrestling and hopefully help his team win this Ultimate Fighter. That's the goal to win in the end. I guess he's got confidence in me and he offered me the position to be his wrestling coach on the show. I'm extremely honored and excited to be on the show. Here we go, I'm going to have to put my hip to the test."
Should be interesting.
The "Godfather of Ground and Pound" was the first-ever UFC Heavyweight Champion, as well as the 2000 PRIDE Fighting Championship Open Weight Grand Prix Champion. He won his first collegiate wrestling title in the late eighties, before a lot of current fans (and fighters) were even born.
For more on the upcoming season of TUF 19: "Team Penn vs. Team Edgar," click here. To get additional background on Coleman's decision to hang up the gloves for good click here.