B.J. Penn is a UFC Hall of Famer, and a bonafide martial arts legend. Before his MMA career even began, he became the first American to win Gold at the World Jiu-Jitsu Championship. Then, over the course of his 28 fight career, Penn became a UFC champion in two separate weight classes.
Until recently though, the 36 year old fighter was more or less retired. Last year, however, rumors began to circulate that he was potentially considering a comeback.
After a two-year layoff, it is now official, B.J. Penn is returning to professional MMA to face Dennis Siver (22-11) at UFC 199.
UFC President Dana White confirmed the news with Yahoo! Sports. The event will take place at June 4 at The Forum in Los Angeles. The main card airs on PPV following the prelims which will occur on Fox Sports 1 and UFC Fight Pass, though the bout order hasn't been finalized yet.
Penn's return was delayed by a third-party investigation following recent allegations from a former employee.
Here's what UFC COO Lawrence Epstein told Yahoo! Sports:
“We have taken a look at the available facts, which aren’t too substantial, and there are two stories of what happened. To date, there has no action at all taken by any law enforcement agency. We decided to allow B.J. to fight. However, we are going to continue to monitor to the situation. If new information, more information, becomes available to us, obviously, we reserve the right to reevaluate.”
Penn's last fight was in July of 2014 where he suffered a third loss to Frankie Edgar in that bout. It was Penn's first featherweight fight, and it did not appear like he was handling the weight cut very well. He has now lost his last 4 straight, and has made 6 unsuccessful trips to the Octagon out of 7.
Penn, who will be remembered as one of the best and most important lighter-weight fighters in MMA history, retired from the sport afterward, citing his inability to compete at the top level any longer. However, he’s now back for at least one more bout.
Siver recently suffered a unanimous decision loss to Tatsuya Kawajiri and is only 1-3 in his past five fights (one was a no-contest after a failed drug test). Prior to this recent slide, he was 6-1 in his move from lightweight down to featherweight.
Many of us UFC fans grew up watching B.J. Penn so I think this will be an awesome event. If not for the fight itself, for the nostalgia that will come with it. We're really looking forward to this one.