B.J. Penn has made it official: he's coming out of retirement to make one last run at the featherweight title.
Penn confirmed the news to Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour.
"I want to go get that 145-pound belt. 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.
"That's who I am. That's what I do."
The former lightweight and welterweight champion (one of only three fighters to ever hold two different UFC titles) is currently training at the Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA Academy, alongside athletes like Jon Jones and Holly Holm.
At 37 years old though, this doesn't seem like the wisest move on his part, but if anyone can make it happen, it's B.J. Penn. After all, there's a reason they call this man the "Prodigy."
In his early 20's, Penn was a Jiu-Jitsu phenom, earning his black belt in just three years, and becoming the first non-Brazilian to win the World Jiu-Jitsu Championships' black belt division. He leveraged that skill into an iconic MMA career, competing in four different weight classes (from featherweight all the way up to heavyweight!), becoming a UFC champion in two of them. As a lightweight he was undefeated for eight years, and eventually was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame.
There's no doubting this man's credentials, which means that his return could have some huge ramifications for the UFC's featherweight division.
That being said, the later portion of Penn's career has been anything but smooth.
He has only a single win in the past five years, and has dropped his last three, including another attempt at a comeback against Frankie Edgar. His record has suffered as a result, and he ended his career at 16-10-2.
Penn isn't concerned though, and understands the risks that a late-career comeback run will entail.
"I've been kind of thinking about it for a while. But, this is my last resort, and I'm going to give it everything I got," he said.
"I made sure to tell Greg, I let him know the other day that if I can't do this, Greg, in any way, shape, or form, you feel that B.J. doesn't belong in the ring, please let me know. Please let me know. And he's very confident that we can get something done. With somebody like that, who has so many champions himself and who has does as well as he has in this sport, when he tells me that: ‘I know you can go out and I know you can beat all these guys,' it gives me a lot of confidence."
"I don't want to be a shell of my former self," he added. "And I told Jackson that if I can't do this, you let me know. You come straight to me, Greg. You see me sparring one day, you look at me and say ‘this guy don't got it anymore,' pull the plug right now. I got a wonderful life back in Hawaii. I love my life. But I love fighting more."
"I realize what I'm up against. I'll go out right now and give all my respect to these guys. These guys are animals. These guys are the best athletes in the world, and I want to go and take my place among them.
"When you get the dice, just roll it. That's what I've done my whole life. That's what I've done my whole career. That's why people remember me. All these people are talking about this and that. If I cared about legacy, I would've never fought all these guys. I would've never took these fights. I think they're confusing me with someone who actually cares. I don't care about that stuff. I just want to scrap. I just like fighting. I couldn't care less about any of that. It doesn't mean nothing. I'm not going to retire early to try to go out on top. That's not me. I'm going to go down in front of everybody, and people are going to talk, and people are going to say, ‘thank you for showing up.'"