Frankie Edgar put an end to BJ Penn’s Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight title reign back in 2010 when he proved just a bit better than the Hawaiian.
Edgar showed the gap has widened significantly as he put an exclamation point on the end of Penn’s storied career with a dominant performance on Sunday night.
Penn acknowledged he was done fighting after suffering a third-round knockout loss to Edgar in a featherweight bout that served as the main event of “The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale” card at Mandalay Bay Events Center.
The 35-year-old Penn has reversed course on retirement several times but seemed to make a definitive statement about his future immediately after the loss.
“Frankie did a great job. I shouldn’t have come back,” Penn said. “I shouldn’t have been in the cage tonight.”
Penn was never in the fight.
Edgar outboxed him when the fight was standing and easily took Penn to the mat on several occasions. Referee Herb Dean mercifully stopped the fight 4:16 into the third round with Edgar dropping elbows and right hands on Penn.
“It’s a bittersweet victory. I almost feel bad about it,” Edgar said. “I didn’t get up and celebrate like crazy. When I first got in this sport, BJ was the guy. I think we all owe BJ a lot.”
UFC president Dana White had said before the fight he would insist Penn, who already has been guaranteed a spot in the UFC Hall of Fame, stop fighting should he lose to Edgar again.
“Dana said it’s over, and I’ve got to agree with him at this point,” Penn said.
White left his cageside seat before the conclusion of the fight and wasn’t there for the finish.
“BJ Penn is a guy who I’ve known forever. He built the 155-pound division. He’s a legend,” White said. “The list goes on and on of what this guy has done. He’s got a beautiful wife and beautiful children. What more do you want, BJ? There’s nothing left to prove. He knows how I felt. I don’t want to make $1 of that kind of money.”
Edgar had beaten Penn twice before, but both fights had gone to the scorecards. He took the belt with a unanimous decision in April 2010, then won all five rounds in a rematch that August.
The judges weren’t needed Sunday as Penn was finished in the cage for just the third time in his career, including once when his corner requested a fight be stopped.
Penn retires as one of only two fighters in UFC history to hold a belt in two weight classes. He made his professional debut at UFC 31 in 2001. Penn ends his career with just one win in his final seven fights. He hadn’t fought since a unanimous decision loss to Rory MacDonald in December 2012.
Penn and Edgar had served as opposing coaches on Season 19 of “The Ultimate Fighter” reality show, which featured both a middleweight and light heavyweight tournament.
Both divisions were concluded with first-round knockout victories Sunday night.
Middleweight Eddie Gordon knocked out Dhiego Lima in just 1:11, and light heavyweight Corey Anderson followed with a 1:01 knockout of Matt Van Buren.
Also on the card, heavyweight Derrick Lewis improved to 2-0 with two first-round knockouts in the UFC with a thrashing of Guto Inocente to spoil his UFC debut.
The preliminary card was highlighted by the successful UFC debut of Las Vegan Robert Drysdale, who submitted Keith Berish in just 2:03. Berish suffered a knee injury as he fell to the ground while Drysdale had a rear naked choke secured.
Drysdale, one of the top grapplers in the world, is now 7-0 with seven first-round submission victories since taking up mixed martial arts.
Contact reporter Adam Hill at email@example.com or 702-224-5509. Follow him on Twitter: @adamhilllvrj.