Former UFC welterweight and lightweight champion BJ Penn has officially ended his retirement and plans on making a return to the octagon.
On Monday, Penn spoke with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour, where he announced his decision to make a run at the featherweight title. Penn, whose last fight was a lopsided defeat against Frankie Edgar, will train at Jackson’s MMA alongside the likes of Jon Jones, Holly Holm, and Carlos Condit. He believes that he has one last chance to make a successful return to the sport, and with Greg Jackson behind him, he can win a third UFC title.
“I want to go get that 145-pound belt. That's definitely a huge motivation for me,” said Penn. “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.”
Many fans question BJ Penn’s chances of success in his return due to his age and his last appearances in the octagon. His last three bouts mark the only three-fight losing streak of his career. He dropped lopsided unanimous decisions to Nick Diaz and Rory Macdonald at welterweight, as well as a TKO loss to Frankie Edgar at featherweight. The 37-year old does not think his age will hold him back from becoming a three-weight world champion, citing examples of other champions who’ve had success at a similar age.
“A lot of people might say, ‘you should've done this 10 years ago.' Hey, you know, there is a time and a place for everything. There's a time and a place. I've only been fighting one fight a year for the last three years, and I think I saved a lot of myself there. I think I saved myself. How old are UFC champions? Werdum is my age. I think this is going to be good, Ariel. I think this is going to be good.”
Penn recently challenged Nick Lentz to a featherweight bout at UFC 197 on March 5, the highly anticipated card that features two title fights. Lentz, who recently moved back up to lightweight, had an interesting response to the former champion’s callout, saying that he would not fight at featherweight or on March 5.
Penn said he still wants to fight at UFC 197. No other opponents have been mentioned yet for BJ Penn’s return.