(Cross- posted from Headkick Legend)
Hello BE brethren, I thought i'd discuss something which I don't think received nearly enough play after UFC 112- and that's the thrilling, neck and neck tactical (primarily) striking battle between BJ Penn & Frank Edgar. Unfortunately, between the controversial decision in their fight, and Anderson Silva's antics, the actual brilliance of this fight went largely unnoticed. I sincerely hope that the discussion in this thread be focused more on this than the topic of who should've won (a dialogue which has been thoroughly explored & analyzed).
Especially with the upcoming rematch between these two, I thought it prudent to analyze their 1'st fight. The stylistic discrepancies were obvious from the outstart- Penn, with his stalking, crisp hand- focused game, with his laser beam jab & explosive power shots; Frankie, with his tireless circling, varied striking attack, and relentless pace. Both men had specific games in mind that they sought to implement, and both men experienced mixed results; BJ would chase after Frank in frustration from time to time, and that's when Frankie would be able to use feints and score on Penn. Conversely, whenever Edgar would get too cute or too predictable with his head movement or attacks, Penn would counter mercilessly, repeatedly busting his chaps with deft jabs and check hooks. BJ would hold the center of the Octagon with his feet firmly planted by the time of an exchange, using his great timing & control of distance to counter Edgar, and Frank would respond by circling to either side, employing fakes, and working an in- and- out kind of attack. Well, at least until the 4'th round
Through the 3'rd round, it's the general consensus that although Frank was doing much better than expected, Penn was landing the more significant strikes. Interestingly, Fightmetric & Compustrike have significant discrepancies in their scoring- FM has Penn outlanding Edgar 72-63 (71-61 power strikes), whereas CS has Edgar outlanding BJ 90-81 (BJ still has the edge in power strikes in their estimation, 74-72). However, it becomes more interesting round- by- round. Both sources agree that Penn landed more significant strikes in rounds 1-3, although round 3 was (nearly) even in total strikes, and perhaps the judges valued Frank's takedown attempts. Rounds 4 & 5 aren't in dispute, with Edgar winning both rounds quite clearly against a visibly worn Penn; nothing to merit a 10-8 round, but Frank won those last 2 rounds just as clear as BJ won the first 2.
Now- the real meat of this story: how will the rematch go down? Heading into the 2'nd, it's clear that both men have things they can improve on- Frank needs to land more damaging strikes, and if he does get takedowns again, he needs to do something with them. BJ needs to make it much more obvious that he's landing the better shots (if he is), and would do well if he could take Edgar to the mat. Now, BJ looked a little doughier than he has in his other recent fights, and that can be possibly attributed to A) Not training with Marv Marinovich in prep for the fight, B) The knee brace he was wearing during the fight could signify that he had some injuries heading into the match, and C) Perhaps a classic BJ Penn lack of motivation, which (if that was the case) might be rectified by what seems to be a very motivated, and perturbed, BJ (a frightening prospect, indeed).
Personally, i'm leaning a bit towards BJ, because he just didn't look as dynamic & focused as he was in his fights with Sanchez, Florian, Sherk, etc, and because Frankie basically had the fight of his life on that night. Perhaps he will execute it even more effectively, and definitively beat 'The Prodigy'- but who knows? Cheers to what could be another highly technical and brilliant striking match between the worlds 2 very best Lightweight fighters!