In a huge upset, Frankie Edgar beat longtime UFC lightweight champion B.J. Penn, winning the title with a unanimous 50-45, 48-47, 49-46 decision at UFC 112 in the company's debut show in the United Arab Emirates.
Though he started in the sport as a wrestler, it was Edgar's excellent stand-up that made the difference at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi.
In the first round, Edgar's movement was impressive, but Penn still broke through and landed a few punches. Edgar tried for a takedown, but was punished for it, as Penn landed a few clean shots on Edgar when he shot in. At the same time, Edgar was able to punch Penn and even give him a mouse under the eye.
In the second, Edgar continued to show excellent movement as he stuck and moved around the cage. Penn was able to land strikes, but seemed frustrated by Edgar's defense. In the final minute of the round, Edgar did what few others could do -- he took Penn down. Penn immediately rebounded to his feet, but it was a surprise to see.
The third round featured more strong stand-up from the New Jersey native. Edgar won striking exchanges. He again tried for a single-leg takedown but wasn't able to complete it. The next time he went for a shot, Penn moved out of position so Edgar followed through with a headkick.
As the championship rounds began, Edgar still looked fresh as he continued to push forward and move around the cage while Penn showed signs of tiring. Penn was able to land his trademark jabs, but Edgar was also able to get the best of several exchanges.
In the beginning of the fifth and final round, Edgar was able to take Penn down and keep him there for a few seconds. According to announcer Mike Goldberg, the two takedowns in this bout were the first time Penn has been taken down at lightweight in six years. Edgar continued to stick and move, landing leg kicks and jabs and continuing to look as fresh as he did in the first round.
As soon as the final bell rang, Edgar raised his arms and his cornermen hoisted him in the air, convinced he was the victor. Penn went back to his corner and leaned on the fence.
"He's the greatest champion ever, and I just beat him! The belt doesn't even fit. Maybe I am a 145-pounder," said Edgar, who is small for the 155-lb weight limit of the lightweight division.
Though Penn has recent losses at welterweight, his last loss at lightweight was to Jens Pulver in 2002. He held the lightweight title since Jan. 19, 2008, when he defeated Joe Stevenson.