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Breaking down UFC 118: B.J. Penn vs. Frankie Edgar

With back-to-back wins over Penn, Edgar could start his own legacy


Associated Press

Frankie Edgar (left) in action against BJ Penn, right, of Hawaii during their lightweight fight at UFC 112 at the Ferrari World theme park on Yas Island, near Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Saturday, April 10, 2010.

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BOSTON — Frankie Edgar's two young sons probably won't remember the year their dad fought mixed-martial-arts legend B.J. Penn in back-to-back fights.

But Edgar hopes that some day they'll be able to look back on it and smile.

"Every fighter wants to leave a legacy behind," Edgar said. "I have two sons. I want them to be able to look back and say, 'My dad was a bad (expletive).'"

Edgar (12-1) will look to defeat Penn (15-6-1) a second time Saturday when the two meet for the UFC lightweight title in the main event of UFC 118 at the Boston TD Garden.

Leaving a legacy isn't exactly an easy thing to do, but the 28-year-old Edgar certainly would have the foundation of one set should he make it two wins in a row against Penn.

That should prove to be a tough task, considering Penn has never lost back-to-back fights as a lightweight. In fact, Penn has dropped only two lightweight fights in his entire career. His other four losses came against larger opponents.

Some see it as unfair that Penn was granted an immediate rematch against Edgar after losing the belt to him in April, but Edgar says he's fine with it.

He knew all along it was likely to happen.

"Believe it or not, going into the first fight I expected it," Edgar said. "I figured if I beat B.J. they'd give him an immediate rematch."

Just as in the first time they fought, Edgar will enter the fight against Penn a significant 3-to-1 underdog.

In the buildup to the fight, Penn has taken a contemplative approach, calling the loss to Edgar a "wake-up call."

The 31-year-old Penn has added he believes he's in the prime of his career and would like to start fighting "at least six times" a year to take advantage of it.

Edgar has heard the comments but doesn't believe Penn's mindset is anything to worry about. Although he expects Penn to be more aggressive for this particular fight, Edgar's ignoring any other proclamations his opponent has made.

"I don't buy into any of it," Edgar said. "I'm sure he's more motivated. He's 31, and he's in his prime. All the stuff he's saying is true. But before every fight, fighters say stuff, and it doesn't mean it all happens or any of it comes true."

Edgar hasn't said all that much leading up to UFC 118 — really, Edgar hasn't said much his entire mixed-martial-arts career.

But if he defeats one of the sport's best Saturday for the second time in five months, that legacy for his boys to look back on will be well on its way.

Quick Hits:

Penn repeatedly has credited Edgar and his corner for coming in with a solid game plan during their April fight.

If there's one thing everyone is expecting out of Penn this time around, it's to put more pressure on Edgar and force that game plan to go out the window.

Penn looked to do damage with counters in their last fight, but that proved to be hard to do against an in-and-out type boxer with Edgar's speed.

Edgar is expecting a different strategy from Penn this time around, one in which he comes forward much more than in their first fight.

"I think he'll be more aggressive," Edgar said. "He'll try takedowns, and he'll cut the cage off. Typical things you do against a guy with my style."

There were rumors that Penn was less than 100 percent in the first fight, something he may have hinted at even more by revealing he tried to rest more in his recent preparations.

Although it's usually impossible to tell beforehand, it appears Penn was dedicated to coming into this fight completely healthy and fresh.

"I have a problem with overtraining," Penn said. "I got a bad rap for not training hard enough, so it made me overtrain worse. I think right now, I found a perfect balance for myself."

Last Time Out:

Edgar: Unanimous decision win over B.J. Penn at UFC 112.

Penn: Unanimous decision loss to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112.

The Lines: Penn, minus-400; Edgar, plus-300

Final Words:

Edgar: On James Toney picking up his lightweight belt during a press conference: "I was going to ask him if he wanted to trade me the belt for those shiny bracelets he was wearing."

Penn: On being in his prime: "I honestly believe what you guys have seen from me is nowhere near my true potential."

Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at LVSunFighting

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