LAS VEGAS -- Make no mistake about it: B.J. Penn, a former welterweight and lightweight champion, wouldn't be cutting down to 145 pounds at age 35 if it wasn't for one final crack at Frankie Edgar, the man who took his lightweight title.
"If Dana had asked me to come to 145, and fight any other people, there's no way I would have done it," said Penn, who meets Edgar for the third time on July 6 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in The Ultimate Fighter's coaches fight.
But as the future Hall of Famer's career winds down, his 2010 losses to Edgar; with Edgar winning the title in April and retaining in August, clearly still eats at him. Penn's two-year lightweight title reign was so dominant, that there was some discussion as to whether he belonged atop the pound-for-pound rankings before Edgar came along.
"I had a good run going at 155," Penn said. "Frankie came in, and one thing about Frankie, he's one of the best in the UFC. Getting the opportunity to coach against him, I realized he's one of the most competitive people. He's not one of those ‘I'm mad at you now and I want to kick everybody's butt. He's just a really competitive person and I think that's going to help me. I've got a very familiar opponent standing on the other side."
After Penn lost in a one-sided welterweight fight to Rory MacDonald in Dec. 2102, many speculated it was time for Penn to retire.
Penn, for his part, won't commit to anything beyond the Edgar fight. But that won't stop him from discussing his legacy.
"I want everyone to know that I always gave it the best shot I had, whether it went that way my night," Penn said. "Fighting is my whole life, the UFC is my whole life. Dana and the UFC gave me the opportunity and I always gave the best I could give."