#3 BJ Penn vs. Frankie Edgar – UFC Lightweight title, UFC 112
It’s often been said that the problem with Frankie Edgar’s fighting style – which largely focuses on a mix of boxing and wrestling and has been criticized for a lack of excitement and labeled ‘point-fighting’ – is that in a close fight involving him, it’s hard to pick a winner. That was certainly the case at UFC 112 when he shocked everyone by dethroning longtime UFC Lightweight champ BJ Penn after a hugely controversial judges’ call.
Nobody was really giving Edgar a chance against ‘The Prodigy’, but after a close first round, it looked like the underdog was at least in with a chance. ‘The Answer’ used his footwork and movement to stay largely out of danger early on, but despite that, it appeared that he wasn’t really landing any meaningful blows on the champion – while Penn landed fewer shots, but ones that were almost certainly more telling.
As the fight went on, though, it appeared that Penn was losing steam – while ‘The Answer’ didn’t slow down, still circling and dancing around and still landing a lot of shots – albeit not truly damaging ones – on the champion. Return strikes from ‘The Prodigy’ were now few and far between, but by the time the fifth round ended, it appeared to most that the champion had probably done enough in the early rounds to warrant the victory.
The judges saw it the other way though, awarding Edgar the fight and the title – with one somehow managing to score it 50-45 for him, meaning Penn’s strong work in the opening two rounds – and arguably the third as well – had gone thoroughly ignored.
The controversial call triggered the UFC to book an immediate rematch between the two – but while Edgar proved that he had Penn’s number by definitively beating him, it wouldn’t be the last time his fights were mired in controversy, as later title fights with Gray Maynard, Benson Henderson and Jose Aldo saw equally questionable calls, both for and against the New Jersey native.