B.J. Penn has never been one to take a loss lightly.
In recent years, the former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion has appeared determined to avenge previous defeats.
First he evened the score with Jens Pulver, dominating the inaugural UFC lightweight titleholder en route to a submission victory in 2007. Less than two years later he attempted a similar feat against Georges St-Pierre, but suffered a late TKO loss after his corner threw in the towel. In 2010 he then snagged the rubber match with Matt Hughes, dispatching the UFC Hall of Fame inductee with a rapid-fire knockout.
Though Penn has always made a point of returning the favour against fighters who have bested him in the past, he said he isn't necessarily obsessed with vengeance.
"I don't know about fixated, but I believe everyone out there would want to have another shot at somebody who beat them," Penn told reporters on a recent media call. "I just think that's part of life. I just think that's human nature — bottom line."
Penn now has his sight locked on the man who took his UFC lightweight championship when he once again locks horns with Frankie Edgar in the headliner of The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale in Las Vegas Sunday. The bout will also mark the Hawaiian's first at featherweight.
Penn admitted that while batting around ideas for his return to the Octagon, he lobbied UFC president Dana White for another crack at Edgar. As a result, the two were paired up as opposing coaches on the most recent season of TUF.
"I talked to Dana and said (I wanted to) get back in and avenge a couple of my losses," Penn said. "Frankie's name came up and everything got put together.
"This is the first time I asked to fight Frankie. When I first had to fight Frankie, I was like, 'Really, Frankie, who is this? Let me check it out.' Then Frankie comes out and proves himself. Frankie now is one of the best of all time in the UFC. It's definitely a fight I'm looking forward to."
Penn and Edgar originally met in the co-main event of UFC 112 on April 10, 2010. A sizable underdog going into the bout, Edgar pulled off a stunning upset to win the 155-pound title via unanimous decision. He then dominated Penn in the rematch to earned the judges' nod four months later.
Edgar admitted his second victory over Penn remains one of the most memorable of his career.
"I think they were both rewarding in their own right," Edgar said. "I guess the second time was a little more reassuring just because everyone thought the first time was a fluke and I was able to get it done the second time. Maybe that one stuck out a little more for me."
Though he's next on Penn's hit list, Edgar can relate to the Hilo native.
During his run as UFC lightweight champion he delivered a stunning knockout against Gray Maynard, who had previously handed him a decision loss in 2008.
Edgar said he understands Penn's motivations.
"Yeah, absolutely, I've been there before," Edgar said. "It's just competitive nature. I'd think all fighters would want a chance at redemption."
Though Edgar already holds two victories over Penn, he's hardly in a lose-lose situation.
On top of the bout being yet another high-profile encounter against one of mixed martial art's true legends, he could also become the only fighter to go 3-0 against Penn.
However, Edgar admitted he was surprised when the opportunity came across his plate.
"I was definitely not expecting B.J. to be the guy I was coaching against," Edgar said. "(Dana and I) were throwing around the idea of me coaching the show. I thought I was going to miss the opportunity just because we couldn't get someone. Then he threw out the name B.J. to me. I'm pretty easy going and I just jumped at it."
For Penn, not only does does a victory over Edgar allow him to earn a measure of retribution, it proves he's still relevant in the ever-evolving sport of MMA. Conversely, White recently stated a loss would result in a talk about retirement.
Though there is a lot at stake for him, Penn said part of his decision to return is that he simply loves to compete.
"This is what I do, this is what I've done my whole life and this is all I know," Penn said. "It just comes down to having fun and doing what I love."
B.J. PENN TIMELINE
UFC 31 (May 4, 2001): A Brazilian Jiu Jitsu standout, Penn makes his MMA debut, picking up a first-round TKO win over Joey Gilbert.
UFC 35 (Jan. 11, 2002): Penn fails to capture the UFC lightweight title, losing a majority decision to Jens Pulver.
UFC 41 (Feb. 28, 2003): Penn comes up short again in his bid for the 155-pound belt, going to a controversial split draw with Caol Uno.
UFC 46 (Jan. 31, 2004): Penn shocks the MMA world by moving up to welterweight and dethroning champion Matt Hughes via first-round submission. He would later be stripped of the belt after signing with K-1.
K-1: Hero's 1 (March 26, 2005): Penn loses a hard-fought unanimous decision to future UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida. The Hawaiian weighed in at 191 pounds, while Machida tipped the scales at 225 pounds.
UFC 58 (March 4, 2006): Penn returns to the UFC, losing a close split decision to Georges St-Pierre.
UFC 63 (Sept. 23, 2006): Then-welterweight champ Hughes evens the score, handing Penn his first TKO loss .
TUF 5 Finale (June 23, 2007): Penn returns to lightweight and avenges a previous defeat to Pulver via second-round submission.
UFC 80 (Jan. 19, 2008): Penn bloodies and submits Joe Stevenson to win the vacant UFC lightweight championship.
UFC 84 (May 24, 2008): Penn dismantles heated rival and former 155-pound titleholder Sean Sherk.
UFC 94 (Jan. 31, 2009): Penn fails to avenge his earlier loss to welterweight kingpin St. Pierre, suffering the second TKO defeat of his career.
UFC 112 (April 10, 2010): Following three successful title defences, Penn loses his lightweight championship to underdog Frankie Edgar via close unanimous decision.
UFC 118 (Aug. 28, 2010): Edgar dominates Penn en route to a unanimous decision to prove their first encounter wasn't a fluke.
UFC 123 (Nov. 20, 2010): Penn returns to welterweight and scores a blistering knockout victory over Hughes to win the rubber match.
UFC on FOX 5 (Dec. 8, 2012): Penn loses a one-sided unanimous decision to current top welterweight Rory MacDonald. Speculation the MMA legend may retire begins to swirl.
TUF 19 Finale (July 6, 2014): Penn will make his featherweight debut and look for redemption against Edgar.