BJ Penn Ends Retirement, Wants Featherweight Belt
BJ Penn’s latest attempt at retiring from mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship has ended.
Days after using his social media accounts to challenge featherweight Nik Lentz to a bout in March, Penn, 37, declared that he was coming out of retirement and was gunning for the 145-pound welterweight belt, which is currently held by Conor McGregor.
“The motivation, definitely, I want to go get that 145-lb belt,” Penn said on The MMA Hour to host Ariel Helwani. “That’s definitely a huge motivation for me. I believe, you know, with Greg Jackson’s help, I can get that done, and I believe that I will be able to walk away the only man with three titles in three weight divisions.”
Jackson is the part-owner of the Jackson-Winkeljohn MMA Academy in Albequerque, N.M. The pair posed for a photo on Penn’s instagram last week, around the same time that the challenge was issued to Lentz, who has worked with Penn’s former nutritionist, Mike Dolce. The Hilo fighter claimed that he would never hire Dolce again his bout against Frankie Edgar, which Penn lost via TKO on July 6, 2014.
This isn’t the first time that Penn, a Hilo resident, has cut retirement short. In 2012, he accepted a challenge from Rory MacDonald to get back into the UFC octagon. Penn lost that bout, which was held on Dec. 8, 2012, via unanimous decision.
After the loss to Edgar, Penn told his website, BJPENN.com, that “I think I should stay retired. If you saw me spar in the gym or work out with any of these guys, you would say ‘Man, this guy should be fighting everybody.’ But after the last few fights, I’m kind of getting tired.”
A UFC spokesperson told Big Island Now Tuesday afternoon that Penn had “expressed to UFC his desire to return to the Octagon,” but no other details, including who or where Penn could be fighting, were made available.
As for his challenge to Lentz, Penn told The MMA Hour that the deadline to accept his challenge was at the end of the day. Penn put out the challenge to face Lentz at 145 pounds at UFC 197 in Las Vegas, which will be held in March. Lentz responded to the challenge, saying that he would only face Penn if the fight was at 155 pounds, was held on Lentz’s schedule, and if $20,000 was donated in Dolce’s name to the Hawai’i Dog Foundation, claiming that Penn owed the nutritionist that amount.