After having been out of the Octagon for more than a year and having lost four of his last six fights, the question swirling over BJ Penn’s head has been: why come back? Why did you step out of retirement and back into the cage?
“I came out of retirement because I wanted to fight Frankie Edgar again,” Penn stated in a recent video interview produced by longtime sponsor RVCA. “I believe I can do better than what I showed fighting with him the second time. When I got the opportunity, it was just a no brainer.”
Frankie Edgar is the man that took the UFC lightweight title from around Penn’s waist at UFC 112. They clashed again at UFC 118 in an immediate rematch, but against Edgar bested the legendary Hawaiian.
While Penn has fought just once in the past two years, Edgar lost the belt and dropped down to featherweight to try and spark some new momentum. He lost his first fight at 145 pounds, to current champion Jose Aldo, but rebounded with a win over Charles Oliveira in July.
When the UFC came calling, offering Penn the opportunity to coach opposite Edgar on The Ultimate Fighter and then try to rekindle his own flame at 145 pounds, it was an intriguing enough idea that Penn couldn’t resist it.
Penn has fought in many weight classes over the course of his career. He won UFC titles at both lightweight and welterweight, defeated Rodrigo and Renzo Gracie at middleweight, and even fought Lyoto Machida in an openweight fight in Japan in 2005. Penn weighed in at 191 pounds, while Machida then tipped the scale at 220 pounds.
The fight with Edgar, however, will mark the first time in his career that Penn has gone as low as 145 pounds, but he looks forward to the challenge. At 35 years of age, he has been a firsthand witness to the evolution of the sport, having begun fighting in the UFC when he was 22.
He realizes the commitment that the sport now demands from its athletes.
“It’s amazing to see it all evolve to this level,” Penn stated.
“I’m going to be fighting Frankie Edgar at 145 pounds. I’ve never been to that weight before, but I feel great. It’s a new chance to show what I got. I’m very excited. Maybe 145 is the best thing that ever happened to me. We’re gonna find out.”
And regardless of what anyone thinks, Penn doesn’t sound like this is a one-off swan song before he finally rides off into the sunset for good. It very well could be if things don’t go his way, but at least for now, it sounds as if this is just the opening leg of a farewell tour, if anything.
“I think I’ll beat Frankie convincingly and I think we’ll be right back in the top in the mix with everybody else.”