BOSTON, August 28 – Let the reign truly begin. In what was almost a continuation of their April bout, UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar shut out the man he beat for the belt at UFC 112, BJ Penn, via unanimous decision in the UFC 118 main event Saturday night at TD Garden, silencing any naysayers who called the first win a fluke.
“I want to thank BJ, he truly brought the best out of me,” said Edgar, who took the bout via three scores of 50-45.
“Frankie fought a great fight, he’s the man,” said Penn. “Much respect.”
Penn was emotionless as he made his way into battle; conversely, the champion practically ran up the aisle from his locker room to the Octagon, eager for the fight to begin.
At 12:11am local time, he got his wish, and the action got underway immediately, with the two trading punches and Edgar following up with a takedown of the former champ. Penn locked Edgar’s arms up, and with 3:22 remaining, he scrambled to his feet. Edgar soon settled in, getting back to the rhythm of striking and movement that won him the belt in the first place. This time though, he was throwing more wrestling into the mix, as he put Penn on the mat a second time. Penn rose quickly, and there was heat behind his punches, but he was coming up short when it came to landing them.
Better adjusting to Edgar’s speed and head movement, Penn’s strikes began landing with more frequency early in round two, but the champion was undeterred as he stuck to his gameplan while continuing to mix up his strikes. Midway through the round, Edgar got the bout to the mat, but Penn didn’t allow it to stay there for long as he got upright quickly. “The Prodigy” was unable to capitalize though, as it was Edgar’s quick shots and movement continued to baffle Penn.
Penn came out of his corner with more urgency in round three, and while he had some success early on, by the third minute of the frame, it was Edgar back in control, as the crowd chanted his name. In the final 90 seconds, Penn saw some daylight when he stuffed a takedown attempt and landed some strikes, but it was a short-lived rally as Edgar finished the round strong.
Early in round four, Penn switched gears and took Edgar to the canvas, garnering a roar from the crowd. Edgar grabbed Penn and tried to keep him close, but then suddenly broke free in a lull and got back to his feet. Looking to get even scoring wise, Edgar became the standup aggressor, even kicking Penn’s legs out and sending him to the mat. This time, Penn held Edgar close as he tried to get in position for a submission, but Edgar wasn’t biting. Instead, he postured up to land strikes, with each punch drawing cheers. With 1:30 left, Penn got up, but was unable to cut the Octagon off on Edgar, ending another frustrating frame.
Penn shot for – and got – the takedown again to start round five, and even when Edgar scrambled up, Penn was relentless in getting him back to the mat. But Edgar was just as active, and he turned into Penn’s guard and out of immediate danger. Elbows, punches, and forearms followed from the champion, but Penn remained expressionless, as if all he needed was one shot to turn things around. Edgar wasn’t about to give him that shot though, and his perpetual motion kept Penn from putting together a late rally, even when the two got back to their feet for the final stages of what turned out to be Edgar’s first successful title defense. As for Penn, a former welterweight champion as well, he was non-committal about his future at 155 pounds.
“I’ve really got to go back and think about things,” he said. “No quick decisions.”
With the win, Edgar improves to 13-1; Penn falls to 15-7-1.