BJ Penn's suprise return to TUF

Frankie Edgar, BJ Penn
BJ Penn and Frankie Edgar will face off on season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter.
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Mike Chiappetta

Mike Chiappetta has documented the fast-growing sport of mixed martial arts since 2006 for news organizations including SB Nation, NBCSports.com, FIGHT! Magazine, AOL and ESPN. He appears regularly as an analyst on countless television shows and radio programs, including CBS Radio and MMA Beat. Follow him on Twitter.


In a bombshell announcement, B.J. Penn has returned to the UFC and will drop two weight classes, from 170 to 145, in order to coach opposite Frankie Edgar on season 19 of The Ultimate Fighter before facing him in an April 2014 matchup.

The news was broken by Ariel Helwani on Wednesday’s edition of UFC Tonight.

Penn has been inactive since Dec. 8, 2012, when he lost to Rory MacDonald at a UFC on FOX event. Since then, he’s been home in Hawaii contemplating retirement. In June, it was reported that Penn was considering a return to competition at lightweight, where he was a popular champion from 2008-10 until losing to Edgar in a stunner at UFC 112.

At the time, Edgar was little known and a massive underdog. That led to a rematch that Edgar won again, this time more decisively, a result that led Penn to move up a division to welterweight, where he’s competed for his last four fights.

For the 34-year-old Penn (16-9-2), it will be his fourth official career weight class, spanning all the way up to middleweight, though he also once fought a 220-pound Lyoto Machida in an open weight bout.

For Edgar (16-4-1), it will be a return to the matchup that made him a star, and his second trilogy following the memorable series involving Gray Maynard. This will be the 31-year-old’s third bout at featherweight following a title bout unanimous decision loss to reigning champ Jose Aldo and a decision victory over Charles Oliveira.

Edgar and Penn will be tutoring middleweights and light-heavyweights on season 19, which will begin to air in January on FOX Sports 1. Tryouts recently took place in Indianapolis, drawing such names as ex-Bellator champion Lyman Good, Cathal Pendred, Dhiego Lima and Luis Palomino.

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