August 29, 2010
Frankie "The Answer" Edgar left no questions at UFC 118 in Boston on Saturday night. He defended his lightweight championship belt vs. B.J. Penn, winning a unanimous decision 50-45 on all three judges' cards.
Edgar took Penn down immediately in the opening round. Penn would not let Edgar pass his guard and finally rolled out after a minute. Not long after, they were back to the canvas, with Edgar scoring another takedown. When they got back to their feet, Penn had a hard time connecting his strikes, while Edgar finished the round off with a big kick-punch combo.
In the second, Edgar again did what few other fighters have been able to do: take Penn down. Edgar didn't hold Penn down for long, but when they returned to their feet, Edgar was the aggressor. He continued to move well and frustrate Penn.
Early in the fight, the crowd at the TD Garden chanted Penn's name, but by the third round they were yelling, "Frankie! Frankie!" He earned their love as he stayed fresh and fast, winning virtually every exchange with Penn.
Penn finally seemed to come alive in the fourth round, taking Edgar down to start the round. He didn't hold Edgar down for long, though, and Edgar returned the favor with a takedown of his own, sweeping Penn's leg out from underneath him. Edgar postured up and landed big shots, both with Penn on his back and when they stood back up.
In the final round, Penn again started out with a takedown but lost the advantage when Edgar reversed it. Edgar did not let up, landing elbow after elbow on Penn's face.
This fight was a rematch of the duo's UFC 112 title bout in Abu Dhabi. In that bout, Edgar won a razor-close decision. This time, he left no doubt who was the better fighter. Edgar melded tight striking, frustrating movement and excellent wrestling, giving him the exact formula to beat Penn.
"I feel like I can walk on water," Edgar said. "I knew he was going to come in tough. I wanted to make that point."
Gray Maynard won his bout with Kenny Florian earlier in the evening, earning him a shot at Edgar's belt. The interesting wrinkle is that Maynard is the one fighter who has beaten Edgar. Maynard took a unanimous decision from Edgar in May of 2008, and he has a similar style to Penn.
After trash-talking before the fight, Penn was gracious in defeat.
"Frankie fought a great fight," Penn said. "He fought me twice. He walked away with the decision twice."
Despite this loss, Penn's legacy isn't in trouble. He still is one of the most dominant lightweights ever to fight in the UFC. Edgar just figured out the best way to beat him.
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