The crowd inside the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia last August witnessed something the MMA world (and Dana White) had been waiting to see for a long time.
Not just the terrific mixed martial artist who earned his Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt in just three years. Not just the guy who's so flexible, Plastic Man holds protests outside the arena.
No. What they saw was the masterful and dominant BJ Penn, the BJ Penn who rededicated himself to conditioning and training and being in peak physical form.
The crowd inside the Fedex Forum in Memphis, Tenn., last December got the same treatment.
So, does little Frankie Edgar from Tom's River, N.J., stand a chance against the best BJ Penn we've ever seen? Against Fightin' Words' No. 4 best pound-for-pound fighter in the world?
Well, he's got a better chance than any of us, seeing how he'll be in the Octagon in Abu Dhabi on April 10, 2010 at UFC 112 facing Penn.
After that, and the proverbial "It's a fight, so anything can happen" statement, we have some questions about Frankie "The Answer" Edgar.
1) Can Edgar stand and bang with Penn?
Yes, he can. Penn (15-5-1) has impressive stand-up skills, but Edgar throws bombs, whether you know it or not. Watch him hit pads one day and you'll see. Or just ask Sean Sherk.
2) Can Edgar out-grapple Penn?
Can anyone out-grapple Penn? That's the better question. Penn is other-worldly in his jiu-jitsu and flexibility. Edgar (11-1) has a solid wrestling background but will probably want to keep the fight on the feet in order to give himself the best opportunity to win the lightweight title.
3) What about conditioning?
Five of Edgar's seven fights in the UFC have gone the distance, so fighting in the championship rounds shouldn't be a problem for him.
4) How can Edgar beat Penn?
Edgar's best chance to shock the MMA world is to keep this fight standing for as long as possible and avoid the grappling game. We've seen Edgar take a punch, we've seen Penn give some stand-up beatdowns. But Edgar wants to send some gold through the security scanners at the customs office at a metro area airport, that's the best way to do it.