B.J. Penn has the urge to fight again
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B.J. Penn walked into the VIP area and headed straight for a stationary bike against the wall inside the new UFC Gym in New Hyde Park.
The exercise was less about making weight for his first featherweight bout several months from now and more about getting his energy up after a four-legged flight from his home in Hilo, Hawaii, that involved 14-plus hours of in-air sleeplessness.
Penn will coach against Frankie Edgar in the upcoming 19th season of "The Ultimate Fighter," which begins taping soon. The two will then fight for a third time.
"I get to fight him and I get to avenge the two losses," Penn told Newsday on Saturday. "This is just a no-brainer. I got a lot of energy for that. This is one time [where] I want to fight him now, not he wants to fight me [because] I'm the champion. I want to fight him. That's what it is."
Penn essentially retired after losing to Nick Diaz in October 2011 but returned to fight Rory MacDonald in December 2012. He lost that bout as well and again was considered to be retired from the sport that made him famous.
Then he got that urge again.
Penn said he called UFC president Dana White, who has on several occasions said publicly that he thinks Penn should stay retired. "I said, 'Hey, I'm thinking about getting back involved,' " Penn said. "You know what I want to do? I want to avenge some of my losses."
Penn will have that opportunity in 2014, perhaps as early as April, although no fight date has been set yet.
Edgar said he and White previously had some conversations about coaching a season of "TUF." So, when he received the call from White, it wasn't unexpected.
"But against who was surprising," Edgar said. "I wasn't expecting B.J. We all thought B.J. was retired at the time."
The first two Penn vs. Edgar bouts happened at lightweight, the division Penn ruled for several years. Edgar took Penn's title, then defended it against him in the rematch.
"I have two [wins]," Edgar said. "There's no way I'm gonna lose this one and be like 'Damn, I lost the last time I fought him.' No way. I'm too competitive for that."
But Edgar (15-4-1) is smart enough to not let math get in the way.
"B.J.'s not a guy you overlook, because he's dangerous," Edgar said. "Everyone talks, sometimes he's hot and cold. His last fight, people say he didn't look that great, but he's was up at 170."
Penn is one of two fighters in UFC history to win titles in more than one weight class -- 155 and 170. He even once fought against former UFC light heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida in a kickboxing match in 2005.
With Penn (16-9-2) at lightweight, though, the question had always been about training and making the weight cut properly. At featherweight (145 pounds), those questions come with extra punctuation. Penn didn't seem too concerned, and he will work with noted MMA nutritionist Mike Dolce for this fight.
"Mike, I'm 161 pounds, what do you have to say?" said Penn, recalling one of their recent conversations. "He goes, 'B.J., you could make it this week if you want to.' "