On paper it looked like this was going to end up being a stand-up battle, and indeed that’s just how it turned out. As expected Frankie Edgar’s movement and energy proved to be his best assets, buzzing around the lightweight champion, giving him little time to unload his most powerful strikes.
Penn began to find his timing towards the end of the first round though and began to connect with his jab. The opening two rounds were very close, but to my mind Penn was landing the more effective strikes which saw him up by two rounds on my scorecard. The third round is closer still as the tense stand-up battle continues and Penn stuffs Edgar’s attempts to go to the mat. With neither fighter able to land anything definitive it’s a tough round to score either way, but Penn just edges it for me.
In the final rounds the balance of power swings slightly in Edgar’s favor as he remains as fresh looking and active as he did in the first, while Penn appears to be tiring and is marked under both eyes. Again the fourth is close, but Edgar’s work-rate sways me. The fifth is clearly Edgar’s though as he does the unthinkable and scores a brief takedown against Penn, and gets the better of the exchanges on the feet.
On my card it’s a 48-47 victory for Penn but there’s definitely the potential for it to swing the other way. In a huge upset however the judges have seen it different, and award Frankie Edgar a unanimous decision victory to crown him as the new lightweight champion. Penn does not protest the decision, but some of the scorecards are baffling with one judge scoring it 50-45 for Edgar.
The result shakes up the lightweight division with Edgar now the top dog. It also puts a spanner in the works of BJ Penn and the UFC’s plan to move him back up to 170lbs.
It’s not clear what happens next, but due to the slightly controversial decision and closeness of the fight it’s not out of the question that we may see an immediate rematch, similar to what happened with Machida and Shogun last year.
If not then the division’s other top contenders like Kenny Florian and Gray Maynard (who holds a win over Edgar), will surely be champing at the bit to get the next shot at the title.