8 times. A total of 8 times. Thats how many times Diego Sanchez hit BJ Penn in their bout at UFC 107. In a 5 round fight, Diego Sanchez hit "The Prodigy" 8 times, and attempted 27 takedowns, none of which were successful. Let that sink in. While thats fresh in your head, keep in mind that Diego Sanchez is no pushover. He's a tough, capable fighter. So my only conclusion here, is that BJ Penn is some kind of monster. Let's take a closer look at this fight, and then see what exactly Frankie Edgar can do to win against Penn at UFC 112.
BJ Penn's boxing has gotten better and better since he became dedicated to the sport once again. Throughout the entire fight with Diego, he landed 150 strikes, many of which were in the clinch, as Diego's constant takedown attempts did not leave much room to box during the fight. What is really interesting to me, is the percentages at which BJ was landing his strikes.
When it came to "head jabs" throughout the fight he had an 85% success rate, 78 out of 91 attempts landing. When it came to "head power" he had a 53% success rate, connecting 59 out of 110 times. Everything not aimed at the head, landed 100% of the time. Of course, anyone who watched the fight knows BJ was headhunting, and hardly threw anything at Diego's body or legs, but thats not the point I'm looking to make. What I am trying to point out here is, how little energy BJ wasted. His most missed shots were power shots to Diego's head, trying to do enough damage to end the fight. A huge key to being great in this sport, is making everything you do COUNT.
Striking wasn't the only place where BJ's improvements were on display, taking a look at Diego's totals really shows what good head movement and footwork can do for a fighter. Diego landed 7 out of 68 attempted power shots to the head. 0 out of 32 jabs to the head, and 1 out of 8 body shots. That, ladies and gentlemen, is so underwhelming it hurts. Not to mention the 0 out of 27 takedown attempts. Diego had no answer for BJ Penn.
So this poses a new question, what will Frankie Edgar be capable of accomplishing at UFC 112? I don't want to be a doomsayer when it comes to Frankie's chances, but realistically, his strengths play into BJ's game more so than Diego's did. Frankie's boxing is very solid compared to other's in the division, but I'm not led to believe he is on Penn's level, nor does he have the chin that Penn does. He's a better wrestler than Diego was, but if he even gets Penn to the mat, does he really have the kind of top control to keep himself from being sweeped or submitted?
I would say that Edgar is the biggest underdog of the night when it comes to UFC 112. Even in the main event, Demian Maia is capable of beating Silva if he can get it to the mat, but I don't think there is any favorable position for Frankie in this fight.
I, like many, grew tired of Penn after the second GSP fight, but I find that now that BJ has surrounded himself with the right people and is in the right weight class, he is incredibly like-able. One wonders if BJ will rack up even more amazing stats like he did in his fight with Sanchez, and I believe his continued improvement will show us that he's capable of even more amazing feats inside the octagon.