This was not the way that anyone wanted to see BJ Penn go out.
After 18 months off, BJ Penn returned to the octagon looking to avenge his two losses against Frankie Edgar. Instead, it turned out to be a one-sided affair with Edgar pummeling Penn and earning a third-round TKO in the featherweight bout at “The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale”.
Penn has gotten in arguably the best shape of his career for the right, dropping down to 145 pounds and looking extremely fit. But the 35-year old could not keep up the pace and the aggressive style of the younger Edgar and ended up spending most of the fight on his back taking punishment.
“Frankie did a great job, I shouldn’t have come back,” Penn said immediately after the fight. “I shouldn’t have been in the ring tonight, to compete against the top level like Frankie Edgar. Much respect to him. Dana (White) said it was over and I gotta agree with him at this point.”
Penn had hoped that he could recapture the magic that made him into one of the sport’s true legends but unfortunately Father Time typically gets in the way as “The Prodigy” had nothing for “The Answer” on this night, getting out struck 159-60 over the three rounds.
In the end, Penn finishes his fight career at 16-10-2 with fantastic fights against Matt Hughes and Georges St. Pierre and is considered by many to be the greatest lightweight fighter in MMA history. But he went chasing other titles, looking for other challenges that took him up in weight.
Once he came back down to his natural size, Penn ran into the lighting face Edgar who turned out to be his kryptonite and now owns three wins against the legend. It was a loss so stinging that even UFC President Dana White left his seat during the third round, not wanting to see any more of the beating that Penn was taking.
“This is the end,” Penn said in his post-fight press conference. “I’m thinking to myself, why did you step back into that octagon after the beating that Rory MacDonald gave you? The reason is because I really needed to find out.”
“If I didn’t make this night happen for myself, I would have always wondered and went back and forth and begged Dana to let me get back in. I guess I just needed some closure.”
White also gave respect to Penn following the fight when talking to the media.
“He’s one of two people who’s won two titles in two different weight classes. He built the 155-pound division. He’s a legend. He helped build the UFC, and the list goes on and on of what BJ Penn has done.
“I’ve said this a million times, he’s got beautiful wife. He’s got beautiful kids. He’s got a great family. He owns a UFC BJ Penn gym in Hawaii. What more do you want, BJ? There’s nothing left to prove. Fighting is a young man’s sport.”
Edgar also shared his thoughts on Penn following his impressive showing.
“When I first got into this sport, BJ was the guy,” Edgar said. “He did a lot for the lightweights. I think we all owe BJ a lot.”