What happened when he got there will likely keep him from ever doing so again.
A highly anticipated trilogy bout between Penn and Edgar turned into a rout at "The Ultimate Fighter" finale inside Mandalay Bay Events on Sunday, as Edgar (17-4-1) cruised to a TKO victory in the third round of their featherweight contest.
Penn (16-10-2), perhaps affected by his first cut to 145 pounds or, more likely, a long, taxing career in mixed martial arts, offered very little resistance in his first appearance since a unanimous decision loss to Rory MacDonald in December 2012.
Prior to the fight, UFC president Dana White had stated he would likely urge Penn to retire if he lost. Immediately after the fight, Penn said he didn't plan to argue.
"Frankie did a great job," Penn said. "I shouldn't have come back. I shouldn't have been in the ring tonight. Much respect to him.
"Dana said it's over and I've got to agree with him at this point."
The finish came minutes after an Edgar elbow split open a cut near Penn's left eye. Referee Herb Dean stopped the bout at the 4:16 mark of the round, after Edgar had trapped Penn's left arm and hit him with a long series of short left hands.
Immediate cageside stats showed Edgar out-landed Penn in total strikes 159-to-60.
"I almost feel bad," Edgar said. "I didn't want to worry about what BJ did tonight. I just wanted to worry about what I did."
It's the first time Penn has been unable to finish a fight since January 2009, when his cornerman Jason Parillo threw in the towel after the fourth round of a welterweight title fight against Georges St-Pierre at UFC 94.
The former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion attempted to fight Edgar in the center of the Octagon, but struggled to match his speed and footwork, much like the first two fights.
Edgar found range on his right cross early and took Penn down at least once in each of the three rounds. Penn defended well from his back in the first two rounds, but he looked dejected and lifeless in his corner.
Welts started to form under both Penn's eyes by the second round. In the third, it was obvious Edgar smelled a finish, as he opened up with elbows and hammerfists from Penn's open guard.
It was Edgar's first appearance since a unanimous decision over Charles Oliveira at UFC 162 almost exactly one year ago. After the fight, Edgar, who lost a featherweight title fight to Jose Aldo in February 2013, called for another big fight.
"I want to fight for the title or a fight that gets me to the title," Edgar said.
Penn and Edgar first met in a lightweight title fight at UFC 112 in April 2010. Edgar claimed Penn's belt via unanimous decision in a close five-round contest. He defended the title via decision in an immediate rematch four months later.
Penn, 35, is universally considered to be one of the best fighters in MMA history and arguably the greatest lightweight of all time. He won the UFC welterweight title in an upset submission finish over Matt Hughes in January 2004. In January 2008, Penn became the UFC lightweight champion by submitting Joe Stevenson at UFC 80. He remains one of only two fighters to win titles in multiple UFC weight classes.
Anderson mauls Van BurenCorey Anderson has joined the UFC's light heavyweight division in style.
Anderson (3-0) dominated Matt Van Buren in the TUF light heavyweight finals, ending the fight via TKO at just 1:01 of the first round.
"All the sacrafices I've made make it feel so much more worthy," Anderson said. "I haven't been on vacation; I haven't hung out with friends -- I've been so dedicated to this.
"Frankie Edgar believed in all of us and he was there for me and that's where I'm going to do my camps from now on. I kept telling [coach] Frankie [Edgar] I was ready to go and I knew when the night came, I was going to unleash that fire in me and it was going to be something special."
Fighting out of Rockford, Ill., Anderson wobbled Van Buren (6-3) immediately with a left hook. He landed a left hook, right hand combination seconds later and then took Van Buren to the ground.
Van Buren quickly got back to his feet and attempted to put Anderson into a Thai clinch to slow him down. It didn't work out, as Anderson cracked him with another two-punch combination before slamming him back to the mat.
With Van Buren turtled and covering up, referee Mario Yamasaki decided he was done and awarded Anderson the knockout. According to cageside stats, Anderson out-landed Van Buren in total strikes 28-to-2.
Anderson, 24, has finished all three of his professional fights via first-round TKO. He made his professional debut in March 2013.
Gordon crowned middleweight champEddie Gordon claimed the TUF middleweight crown with a first-round TKO over Dhiego Lima in the tournament finals.
Gordon (7-1), who trains out of Serra-Longo Fight Team, dropped Lima with a right hand less than one minute in and eventually finished him with strikes on the ground.
Referee Yves Lavigned stopped the bout at the 1:11 mark.
"This win is not only for me -- it is a win dedicated to my coaches, my family, my teammates and all the people that were behind me," Gordon said. "So, it was awesome."
Lima (9-2) looked hesitant against Gordon's power from the opening bell. He backed to the fence after eating an early right cross and then went down from an overhand right.
The Brazilian middleweight managed to wall-walk back to his feet, but was planted again by a Gordon right uppercut. Lima then turtled up, which left him open to left hands by Gordon that eventually stopped the fight.
In the initial sequence, it appeared as though Lavigne might have missed an illegal blow to the back of Lima's head. No foul was called and Gordon finished the bout moments later.
Fighting almost exclusively under fight promotion Ring of Combat, Gordon started his professional career in June 2011. Sunday marked his third career knockout.
MMA Live Extra: TUF 19 Finale
Cary Chow and ESPN MMA writer Brett Okamoto break down Frankie Edgar's win over BJ Penn and discuss Penn's legacy to the UFC.