Gregory Payan / AP
Sunday, Aug. 29, 2010 | 1:21 a.m.
BOSTON — Only time will tell if Frankie Edgar’s performance against B.J. Penn on Saturday will finally prove to the masses how good of a mixed martial artist he is.
One thing is for sure, though — it certainly proved it to Dana White.
“I don’t know how you don’t (give him credit),” the UFC president said following Edgar’s decision win over Penn at the Boston TD Garden. “You’ve got to be a complete jackass not to give Frankie Edgar his credit after tonight.
“I thought it was a masterpiece. He looked unbelievable.”
After defeating Penn narrowly by unanimous decision in April, Edgar saved his best performance for this weekend’s UFC 118 main event, dominating one of the sport’s all-time greats throughout their five-round title fight.
Although he was unable to finish Penn, the fact is, he might have done something even greater.
He might have made him quit.
“B.J. looked like he broke in the second round,” White said. “He broke. He was like, ‘What am I doing here?’”
Even in the moments it seemed Penn (15-7-1) was close to changing the momentum of the fight, Edgar (13-1) found an answer to keep it in his favor.
By the time the fourth and fifth rounds came, Edgar was obviously the more confident fighter in the octagon.
Instead of stalling in the final 10 minutes, Edgar became more aggressive and continued picking Penn apart in every aspect of the fight.
“The first time I was in there (in April), I had confidence that I could do what I needed to do, but I hadn’t done it before,” Edgar said. “After doing it, I knew I could do it again. That confidence helped me get through tonight.
“I thought I put more pressure on him and I was able to finish my takedowns and stay on top of him.”
Edgar will now move from Penn to his next challenge, a rematch against the only man to have ever beat him — Gray Maynard.
Maynard solidified his spot as the No. 1 contender with a decision win over Kenny Florian earlier on the UFC 118 card.
The two lightweights are a combined 16-1 in the UFC but largely overlooked up to this point as 13 of those wins have come by decision.
But even White, a man notorious for encouraging his athletes to finish fights, has bought in to what his two top lightweights are doing — and believes fans will, too.
“People always say that,” said White when asked his reaction to fans not being interested in Edgar vs. Maynard. “These two? What does (Edgar) have to do to get respect? The kid just dominated B.J. Penn, and (Maynard) just beat Kenny Florian.
“This fight will do fine.”
Even if this doesn’t prove to be the fight that puts Edgar on the map, the 28-year-old champ is OK with that.
When asked how important it was for him to finish Penn decisively Saturday, Edgar said it was very important to some people — but not necessarily to him.
“I think it was more important for you guys than it was for me,” Edgar said. “I go into every fight wanting to win and do my best.
“I think every fighter fights with a chip on his shoulder. To me, it doesn’t matter. I know my team believes in me. If it takes some time for you guys to believe in me, I’ll do that, too.”