Big news has emerged regarding the next season of The Ultimate Fighter with BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar being announced as the coaches ahead of a third fight between them.
The two men have fought twice before for the lightweight title with Edgar winning by decision on both occasions, but the extra twist this time around is that their third bout will be contested at featherweight.
The announcement is suprising on a number of levels, largely down to Penn’s participation given that the 34 year-old had appeared to be retired. Also, his last fight was at welterweight, so dropping down two full weight classes in order to compete at 145lbs for the first time is certainly unexpected.
Penn had moved back up to 170lbs following his two losses to Edgar in 2010 and it started off well enough for him with a first round KO victory over his old rival Matt Hughes and he then fought to a majority draw with Jon Fitch.
Then came two tough losses in a row, suffering a convincing decision loss to Nick Diaz which was bad enough that he announced his retirement afterwards, only to reappear a little over a year later to take on rising star Rory MacDonald who handed him a comprenhesive three-round beatdown in December of last year.
Meanwhile, Edgar was having something of a rollercoaster ride himself. After establishing himself as the champion with his wins over Penn, Edgar found himself in what would be 2011’s ‘Fight of The Year’ against Gray Maynard which ended in a draw, prompting an immediate rematch.
Edgar rose to the challenge and finished Maynard by KO in their second encounter, but that was to be his last successful title defense.
Up next came another two-fight series, this time with former WEC champ Ben Henderson who defeated him both times, albeit narrowly, to take the title and under pressure from UFC president Dana White himself, Edgar agreed to drop down to 145lbs.
There Edgar headed into an immediate title shot against Jose Aldo, but again lost out by decision leaving him on a three-fight losing streak. He’s since bounced back with a ‘Fight Of The Night’ performance against Charles Oliveira.
On paper this looks like a good fight for Edgar. He’s already got two wins over Penn, he’s proven he’s comfortable fighting at featherweight and as an added bonus he gets to coach TUF for the first time.
As for Penn, you have to admire the fact that he never takes the easy route as Edgar has already proved to be something of a nemesis for him with his speed and movement ending a long unbeaten run for him at 155lbs.
People have been calling for Penn to drop down in weight for some time, but shunting down two divisions to fight at a new weight class for the first time after more than a year out against someone of Edgar’s caliber means he’s really got his work cut out for him.
145lbs could prove to be a good weight for Penn though as many of his defeats in the past have come as a direct result of competing above his ideal weight, so there’s always the chance that this could wind back the clock and rejuvenate ‘The Prodigy’s’ career.
The Ultimate Fighter 19 will begin airing on FOX Sports 1 in January of 2014 with the two former champions set to fight in April.