Penn returning to octagon
Hilo’s BJ Penn is not done yet.
The former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion is getting back into the octagon with a chance at revenge and history — and as a featherweight, no less.
The UFC announced Wednesday that Penn and longtime nemesis Frankie Edgar will be featured as coaches on the “The Ultimate Fighter,” which will be capped by the fighters’ third bout in April.
Penn and Edgar will lead middleweight and light heavyweight mixed martial artist fighters as they bid to win a contract with the UFC. And as is the custom on the TV show, the coaches will fight each other in the season finale as Penn drops down to 145 to try and avenge two previous losses to Edgar. If Penn (16-9-2) is successful, he’d be considered a contender for the featherweight belt held by Brazil’s Jose Aldo, who has beaten all comers, Edgar included, in five successful title defenses.
Penn, 34, has twice lost to Edgar (15-4-1) at lightweight, including an upset loss in 2010 at UFC 112 that broke Penn’s eight-year winning streak in the division.
“BJ really hates the fact that he lost to Frankie Edgar,” UFC president Dana White said in a statement announcing the show. “It’s something that’s been burning deep inside of him for three years now.”
Penn’s future and his possible retirement from the cage have been the topics of much speculation after a one-sided unanimous decision loss to Canadian Rory MacDonald in a welterweight main event fight on Dec. 8.
“I don’t even know at this point,” he told the Tribune-Herald last week. “I’ve been having fun, training in the gym. … I’ve got lots of projects I’m working on.”
This will be Penn’s second appearance on the “The Ultimate Fighter.” In 2007, he submitted Jens Pulver in the second round of the finale by rear naked choke. Penn’s victory avenged a majority decision defeat in a bout for Pulver’s UFC lightweight crown in January 2002.
Penn is 1-4-1 in his last six bouts, but is one of only two men to have won UFC titles in two divisions — Randy Couture is the other — and is still a mixed martial arts superstar.
The 19th season of TUF begins filming in mid-October in Las Vegas, and is scheduled to start airing in January on FOX Sports 1, channel 214 on Oceanic Time Warner digital cable.
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