The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale: Frankie Edgar vs. B.J. Penn Preview
You’ve just finished your main course when your server, a temperamental bald man wearing a size-too-small dress shirt, stops by your table. “Care for some fucking dessert?” he asks. You ignore the now-familiar profanity and politely decline. “What kind of fucking food fan are you?” the server says. You know this act is a posture, but humor him anyway. “Look, we got this day-old chocolate cake, it’s still good.” You ask him what else they have. “Just the cake. Listen, it’s fucking free. Our stockroom is full of fucking chocolate cake.” You decline once more, which only sets him off more. “What kind of fucking food fan are you anyway?” You pay your check and leave. You wonder if you’ll ever come back. You used to really like this place.
THE EDGAR STRIKES BACK / RETURN OF THE PRODIGY
On Sunday, B.J. Penn will step into the cage for the first time in nearly 19 months. He’ll fight Frankie Edgar, a man who holds two wins over him in as many fights – one controversial, the other not so much. Unlike those two fights, this one will take place at 145 pounds. It’s Penn’s first time at the weight, and it’s a weight class more naturally suited to Edgar, who moved down himself after two consecutive losses to Benson Henderson.
The weight cut should help force Penn to show up in shape, and he won’t have to fight a larger man like he did in his last four fights at welterweight. But those fights at welterweight came with an additional cost: In his last three fights, Penn absorbed 341 significant strikes.
So, it comes as no surprise that Edgar enters the fight a 4-1 (true odds) favorite. Penn’s “natural” talent always offers some glimmer of hope – and Edgar has had his own strike absorption issues in the interim as well – but it’s more likely an old, shot, inactive Penn shows up as expected.
FEAR AND LOATHING IN ABU DHABI
About that controversial Edgar victory…
It took place at UFC 112. Penn was on a five-fight winning streak at lightweight, including winning the vacant title and defending it three times. He entered as a 6-1 favorite, and most everyone expected him to easily handle the smaller Edgar.
Edgar proved a tougher out than that, but Penn looked to have done enough to win a decision. FightMetric’s Effectiveness Score awarded Penn a 49-47 decision, with a 10-10 round in the fourth. The system had Penn winning the first two rounds by wide margins with a much closer third round, so, at best, an Edgar scorecard would have to be 48-47, which is the card Sal D’amato turned in. His compatriots, however, scored things differently. Andy Roberts scored the bout 49-46 for Edgar, while Douglas Crosby somehow saw it as a clean 50-45 sweep.
Following criticism of his card, Crosby took to the Underground to explain his reasoning. It reads less as a defense of his judging as much as Hunter Thompson reflecting on a romp through the Middle East. Some excerpts:
So….Just returned from Abu Dhabi, and I haven’t been in my duplex more than 20 minutes, when the Doorman calls me on the intercom in a state of panic…. Seems there are hundreds of moaning, howling ghouls in “RVCA” and “Prodigy/Hilo Boy” T-shirts surrounding the building like extras from “Zombieland”… And they’re chanting “50/45!” over and over, and trying to push their way into the lobby….. Thank God the Father and Sonny Jesus none of them have the elevator key to my penthouse…
If I take the plane ride, and get to the venue, and score the fights, I have a kind of….Contract with the fans; a contract that specifically allows you to criticize me. And I will be glad to defend the terms of that agreement, even if it means I have to take the weight sometimes… I knew this was coming as I scored the fight. I knew the inescapable inevitability of criticism was waiting back here. I saw the ride; and I bought a ticket
May I also mention that I forgive you? For your anger, your insults, and your crassness? NOT all of you….You know who you are. Yes; YOU: Over there, with the purple Nikes on, waiting for the spaceship in the tail of comet to come take you to a world where everyone agrees with you….and YOU over there…the one who thinks his heroes never lose…. So yes, I forgive you.
THE DEBUT OF DRYSDALE
Decorated jiu-jitsu player Robert Drysdale makes his UFC debut on Sunday against Keith Berish. The UFC originally scheduled Drysdale’s debut against Ednaldo Oliveira at UFC 163 last August, but a staph infection forced Drysdale to pull out. The UFC then scheduled him to fight Cody Donovan at UFC 167 in August, but the Nevada State Athletic Commission refused to grant Drysdale a license when a drug test revealed a 19.4:1 testosterone-to-epitestosterone level. He and Berish will open the show as the first of two prelims on Fight Pass.
Mike Fagan is a weekly contributor to MMA Owl. He also hosts Untethered MMA every Thursday at 7 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter.