by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
“When Alexander saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer.”
That quote attributed to Greek writer Plutarch may fall squarely in the lap of UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn if he gets past Frankie Edgar on April 10 in Abu Dhabi. The UFC’s most dominant 155-pound fighter has defeated all challengers, and many argue he will have cleaned out the division if he can get past Edgar.
The questions keep hammering the Hawaiian, asking if he’ll leave the lightweight division and go back to 170 pounds after this fight, but Penn isn’t looking beyond the fight that’s staring him in the face. He knows Edgar didn’t get this shot by accident.
“I’ve always been impressed with him from the beginning,” Penn said recently. “The first time I heard of Frankie Edgar it was a night of really bad fights. And I remember somebody saying that Frankie Edgar and Tyson Griffin got the Fight of the Night. And I actually haven’t gotten to see that fight until recently – until I started studying some of Frankie’s tapes.
“And then I know Mark Bocek really well and Bocek ended up fighting Frankie. So I saw Frankie again, there. And then I remember Frankie fighting Spencer Fisher and fighting Sean Sherk. But throughout all… throughout those times I never knew if there was going to be a show down between me and Frankie, so I didn’t really pay any attention. I just thought well there’s another good guy in the division. And now since this fight got put together I’ve been really trying to study Frankie.”
Looking to the future has cost many fighters the victory that was sitting right in front of them, and Penn understands that even glancing past Edgar could not only derail his plans for the future, but also take away the lightweight title he wears so proudly.
“I’ve said many times Frankie Edgar is not the guy to look past,” said Penn. “Anybody who looks past Frankie Edgar is going to end up with another loss on their record and this isn’t the guy you play around with. So I’m not thinking about anything past April 10.”
Training in Hawaii with the team that has brought him to victory in his last two title fights, Penn also took some extra time to acclimate himself to the climate and conditions in Abu Dhabi. The team landed in the Middle East two weeks early for Penn to finish his training there.
With the fight just hours away, Penn only has eyes for the opponent standing in front of him, and he has proven a dangerous predator when he fixes on his prey. The Hawaiian will look to dominate Edgar the same way he has most of his lightweight foes. Even then he’s not ready to say he’s cleaned out his division.
“I honestly believe that you can never really clean out a weight class because you know there’s always going to be a new contender. No matter what you do there will also be somebody new coming up,” said Penn.
When it’s all said and done, Penn is in this sport for the greatest challenge, whether at 155 pounds or another weight class, and that’s ultimately what’s going to drive his future decision.
“I try to just be true to myself and what my own personal goals are,” said Penn. “And if I feel in my life that I want to try to take a fight at 170 pounds, I’ve got to stay true to myself and to my motivation.”