What we learned from UFC 118
After 50 minutes spent together in a cage, we now know this to be true:
Ironically, it was a 50-45 tally by judge
He moved and danced as he has against everyone save
Not unlike their first fight, except Edgar fought like a man without any doubts.
Edgar landed 55 percent of his strikes (155/283) to Penn's 34 percent (53/154). The champion was also brilliant with his legs, connecting on 29 of 37 kicks. Penn, as he did in the first bout, failed to do any significant damage in that department, landing just 4 of 13. Edgar was relentless. He put Penn on his back and kept him there as well as anyone has. He won scrambles and generally found himself on top. As the fight wore on, Edgar improved, particularly in the championship rounds, which saw some of his best work.
Edgar proved his point. He's better than B.J. Penn. He's not the fighter who wilted under pressure. Just the opposite. Edgar left no room for debate: he's the UFC lightweight champion.
About that "best ever" tag that follows Penn wherever he goes, it needs to be reconsidered. Most talented? Hard to argue he wouldn't qualify. But did he get the most out of his gifts? I don't think so. And you don't need to look further than Penn's career and the choices he made to understand why.
For starters, he was fast-tracked. In just his fourth fight, Penn was given a title shot against
B.J. Penn could have gone down as the best lightweight of all time, but that two-year journey away from 155 is the reason he won't. The decision to seek heavier challenges, which he claimed was in the spirit of MMA's early days when sumo wrestlers would fight slender jiu-jitsu men and no one considered it odd, was more a symptom of Penn's boredom than anything else.
Instead of focusing on a division in which he could be great, he willingly went elsewhere. And it's why, at the age of 31, Penn's future is dim.
With a three-round unanimous decision over
Maynard has won his last seven on points, and apparently sees no reason to do anything other than force his opponents to their back, where he's assured victory.
Edgar, one of the smallest lightweights in MMA, may look like a world beater against Penn, but the rematch with Maynard will offer a tremendous test.
With Penn clearly removed from the top of the 155-pound division, who can carry the class?
Edgar's two wins over Penn are hard to ignore. A case could be made for Maynard based on his victory over Edgar. (Their fight will likely determine No. 1 for the foreseeable future.) Third-ranked
They're all wrestlers first. All scrappers. All in their primes or about to be in their primes.
It's too bad, of course, that we won't see Melendez or Alvarez fight the UFC's. In the meantime, hopefully Strikeforce and Bellator will find a way to bring their champions together; Melendez-Alvarez is one of the most intriguing fights outside the UFC at the moment.
Lightweight is about to enter a new phase in its history.
Boxing and mixed martial arts have very little in common outside the fact that their main objections remain the same -- render the opposition incapable of fighting back.
We didn't learn anything from
Neither sport was hurt. Neither benefited. And until there's a fighter capable of competing at the highest levels of boxing, wrestling, submission grappling and kickboxing, let's leave this kind of stuff for lesser promotions in need of a gimmick.