BJ Penn is an undisputed legend in MMA, capturing titles in two UFC divisions, and participating in some of the most iconic matches in the sport. Last year, a loss to Rory MacDonald at UFC on Fox 5 put his career in an awkward spot though, and left his future in the sport fairly uncertain.
While many assumed he was heading for retirement, it seems that The Prodigy isn’t done yet. A surprise announcement was made recently that Penn was set to face off against former opponent and featherweight contender Frankie Edgar on the next season of The Ultimate Fighter.
The news came out of nowhere, and surprisingly, it felt just as sudden for UFC president Dana White.
“B.J. sends me a text that says, ‘Dana, I want to fight Ben Henderson.’ So I immediately pick up my phone and call him, and he doesn’t answer. This was two days ago,” White said on Thursday’s FOX Sports Google Hangout.
“So then B.J. calls me 45 minutes later. He’s like, ‘Hey Dana, I didn’t answer your phone call because I don’t want you to talk me out of this. I know how you are. I know what you’re going to say, and you’re going to talk me out of it.’ I was like, you’re damn right I’m going to talk you out of it. He says, ‘The reason I want to fight Ben Henderson is because I believe if I beat Ben Henderson, you’ll give me a shot to fight Frankie Edgar.’ I’m like, ‘Frankie Edgar?’ And he goes, ‘Yeah, I want this Frankie Edgar fight worse than anything. Those two losses are a rock in my shoe. He should’ve never beat me. That guy can’t beat me.'”
“B.J. is one of these guys who, I think, is fighting some demons right now, in that, if he could go back and do it all over again, I think he’d do it differently,” White continued.
“I’ll tell you again. B.J. Penn is a legend. He’s been here since the day we bought the company. Me and B.J. have had our times when we butted heads on many things. [But] if he wants it, I’m going to give it to him.”
Penn and Edgar fought twice before in 2010. Edgar took the belt from him at UFC 112, then outpointed the former champ again in a rematch at UFC 118. Penn’s record currently ends with back to back losses, and just one win in over three years. It’s no wonder that Penn wants to make another run at Edgar, the man who more or less put his career on that downward trajectory.