Frankie Edgar Takes Lightweight Belt at UFC 112—Congrats, Now You're a Dead Man
"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."—George Santayana, Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1
B.J. "The Prodigy" Penn ignored history; specifically, Ultimate Fighting Championship 69: Shootout where Matt "The Terror" Serra jolted the globe by vanquishing UFC Welterweight Champion Georges "Rush" St. Pierre (ironic, given Penn's borderline infatuation with the French-Canadian).
I will not repeat Penn's mistake.
Granted, if you're not flabbergasted by the news that he lost his UFC Lightweight Championship belt to challenger Frankie "The Answer" Edgar, you're probably friend or family to the latter.
I don't mean to disrespect the new champ, far from it.
Instead, the observation is a nod to the justifiable aura emanating from Baby J.
The Hilo Kid can no longer claim an utterly dominant reign like his UFC 112: Invincible (irony all over the place) co-star and Middleweight Champion, Anderson "The Spider" Silva. Furthermore, the native of Hawaii would never be confused for consummate royalty like GSP or the unblemished variety like heavyweight king, Fedor "The Last Emperor" Emelianenko.
But let's be clear about this—Penn was and still is one of the best mixed martial artists in the world. Now and for all time.
Consequently, the Answer's solution (sorry) to the Prodigy's eight-year run of supremacy at 155 pounds cannot be shrugged off or exaggerated.
This was a monumental upset.
While the Terror's upset of Rush probably still ranks as the bigger shock, the matter is suddenly and highly debatable.
As you've probably heard many times by now, Penn hadn't lost since January 11, 2002 at UFC 35: Throwdown. That night, Jens "Little Evil" Pulver squeezed out a majority decision over the then-Lightweight Champion and B.J. hadn't tasted defeat since in that weight division.
Additionally, this was no divine intervention.
It wasn't an everybody-gets-caught moment like the overhand-ish right hook to St. Pierre's dome that essentially settled the issue at UFC 69.
Frankie went the full five rounds and outpointed a legend—no matter how you feel about a champ being deposed by decision in a close bout, the victor writes the history books and they will say Edgar nabbed the belt in Abu Dhabi in unanimous fashion. He stood toe-to-toe—figuratively and, at times, literally—for 25 minutes with one of the most dangerous men to ever step in an Octagon, and he won.
Not survived as Dan "The Outlaw" Hardy did against St. Pierre at UFC 111; Edgar won.
That's a profound achievement not matter how you qualify it and I won't inflict such indignity. Of course, I'm about to inflict what is probably a worse one, but it's because of Santayana's quote.
See, if the past tells us anything, it's that the new champ is already a marked man.
Any question about the Prodigy's focus, motivation, and/or regard for the Answer will be gone when the rematch rolls around as it obviously must. My guess is that, in its/their place, you will see the same Baby J that slaughtered Diego "Nightmare" Sanchez, Kenny "Ken-Flo" Florian, Sean "The Muscle Shark" Sherk, and Joe "Daddy" Stevenson.
The same one that avenged that loss to Pulver in brutal and unrelenting fashion at The Ultimate Fighter Five Finale.
Similar to the beast that was unleashed upon Matt Serra during his rematch with a sincerely perturbed Georges St. Pierre at UFC 83.
The Prodigy's concentration and commitment may drift from time to time; there can be no denying that. But, remember, he earned that moniker during the early days of MMA at a time when gladiators took fights with much less regard to size.
This is not an individual whose anger and considerable physical gifts you want trained on your well-being.
For all his warts, a right-minded Baby J is one of those old-schoolers who will fight (and has fought) anyone, anywhere, at any weight, and win.
He has taken on GSP at 170 twice and given him stiff competition, he's beaten Matt Hughes for the welterweight title, he's beaten a 170-pound Renzo Gracie, he's beaten a 182-pound Rodrigo Gracie, and lost a unanimous decision to a 220-pound Lyoto "The Dragon" Machida years before the Dragon became UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
In other words, Frankie Edgar just punched and kicked a sleeping dog. That's what he was supposed to do, but that doesn't necessarily make it wise.
Again, no disrespect to the new Lightweight Champion.
This is about respect for B.J. Penn.