After losing his second lightweight title fight via decision, former king BJ Penn is determined to take the mystery that is MMA officiating out of the equation tomorrow night at UFC 118. While the Hawaiian claims to be in pursuit of a devastating finish inside TD Garden in Boston, reigning champ Frankie Edgar isn’t thrilled over the prospects of going another full 25 minutes either.
“He’s gonna see speed, he’s gonna see strength and he’s gonna see somebody coming to finish the fight. That’s what he’s gonna see,” Penn emphatically stated during this week’s pre-fight press conference.
It seems like from day one, “The Prodigy” was forced to shoulder the pressures of greatness courtesy of his early accomplishments as a grappling guru – hence the perfectly suited moniker. After becoming the first non-Brazilian to win the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship in 2000, expectations skyrocketed, and for the most part, he’s lived up to the hoopla.
Although he was far from a Perfect 10 in his 50-45, 48-47, 49-46 unanimous decision loss to Edgar at UFC 112 this past April, expect for him to be pretty darn close once the cage door slams shut on Saturday.
“When you come out and you start beating people the way I did 10 years ago, people are naturally going to think that you’re going to have a great career,” Penn stated. “I think sitting here right now, and [being] ready to perform on Saturday, I think I’ll be at a 9 [out of 10].
“At certain times I’ve lived up to the expectations and at certain times I definitely haven’t.”
Speaking of overachieving, if consistently defying the odds were a sport, Edgar would be a perennial All-Star. After overcoming his 5-to-1 underdog status to capture the crown, the undersized champ now finds himself at “only” -250 for their mulligan. Perhaps the Gambling Gods caught a glimpse of Frankie while he was prepping for the much anticipated rematch, because Edgar claims to be much improved and extremely motivated to silence his detractors.
“That’s always my thing, is to try and get better in between every fight. I felt I’ve done that this time around,” said Edgar. “I had a great training camp, the confidence that I’ve gained in the last fight has really just pushed me in the right direction. Confidence is a powerful thing and I think it’s definitely elevated – just in how I believe in myself. “
But you’re facing THE BJ Penn again. The man most consider to be the planet’s baddest 155-pounder. How do you plan on making lighting strike twice?
“I just try to approach the fights, I really don’t try to put a face on an opponent,” Edgar said of staying in the moment. “It’s just a style, it’s just another fight and that’s what I try to do with BJ. I know he has this aura about him and everything, but I put that aside and just approach it like any other opponent.”
That Zen-like philosophy worked exceptionally well for him in their first foray, so if it ain’t broke … At the same time, he also used his superior quickness and speed to consistently beat Penn to the punch. Anticipate another heavy dose of that, as well as some wicked Eye of the Tiger-esque intensity to go down in Beantown.
“It would definitely give me much more respect, but I’m going in there expecting a tough fight,” Edgar said of ending Penn’s night early. “The last one was razor thin, if I can get that finish that’d be great.”