Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC) Hall of Famer BJ Penn announced that he was ending his retirement and eyeing a return to the octagon at featherweight. The news comes after Conor McGregor wrested the belt from 10-year champion Jose Aldo. Penn cites the belt as his main motivation for returning to the ring and has even changed camps from Hawaii to New Mexico in preparation for his return.
BJ “The Prodigy” Penn is one of the big names in UFC history and his record earned him a place in the Hall of Fame, but he retired in 2014 after a loss to Frankie Edgar at featherweight. His reasons at the time were his inability to compete at the high level demanded by the UFC’s talent. But recent noise from the BJ Penn camp has been that he was eyeing a return to professional competition. According to MMA Junkie, UFC boss Dana White has said that the retiree was harassing him about a comeback.
Now Dana White has confirmed that the comeback is really happening, though he does not have definite details on how or when that will happen. Most recently, BJ Penn called out Nick Lentz who shut him down in a statement sent to MMA Fighting. “I have a contract, and plenty of guys to fight. As a Narcissist, you have nothing but an image,” the statement reads. ” I have what you NEED. I’M in charge.” The statement alleges that Penn owes celebrity trainer Mike Dolcer $22,000 from his last fight, the loss against Frankie Edgar that spurred his retirement.
But the message from BJ Penn announcing the end of his retirement was all about the featherweight championship. “I want to go get that 145-pound belt,” reports Sherdog.“That’s definitely a huge motivation for me. I believe with Greg Jackson’s help, I can get that done. And I believe that I will be able to walk away as the only man with three titles in three weight divisions.” But before Penn challenges Conor McGregor for his brand new belt, the hall of famer will have to overcome the actual return to the octagon.
Penn’s recent record points to a difficult return to the ring. Since 2010, he has won only one of his last seven fights. One of those losses was the only fight he ever had at featherweight with the man considered a top contender for the title: Frankie Edgar. He will also have to get in line behind Jose Aldo who is gunning for a rematch to regain his lost featherweight belt.
Commentary by Charlie Carlisle
Photo Courtesy Vanessa M. Forloine, Hickam Air Force Base Public Affairs