BJ Penn is Considering a Return to Fighting in the UFC Lightweight Division

June 5, 2013
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BJ-Penn-UFC-107-Post-Presser-478x270Former two-division UFC champion BJ Penn is contemplating a return to fighting in the lightweight division.

UFC Tonight reports that “the door is still open” for Penn to “return to MMA in the near future.”

In fact, the 34-year-old Hawaiian is currently in training to assess whether or not he is “mentally and physically prepared to get back into this sport.”

Penn has bounced around weight classes throughout his career, but if he returns to fighting, it will be in the lightweight division.

Penn (16-9-2) made his professional mixed martial arts debut in the UFC on May 4, 2001, at UFC 31.  He fought in the inaugural UFC lightweight title fight at UFC 41 against Jens Pulver, losing by majority decision.

In his welterweight debut, he defeated former champion Matt Hughes at UFC 46.  He was later stripped of the title for accepting fights outside of the UFC.

He returned to the UFC in an unsuccessful run in the 170-pound division before dropping back down to the lightweight division, capturing the title and defending it twice.

While holding the lightweight belt, Penn moved back up to the welterweight division for a rematch with Georges St-Pierre.  He was soundly defeated, unlike in their first meeting at UFC 58.

He lost the lightweight title to Frankie Edgar at UFC 112 and was defeated by Edgar in an immediate rematch at UFC 118.

After relinquishing the 155-pound title, Penn returned to the welterweight division, fighting Jon Fitch to a draw before losing his last two fights to Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald.

UFC president Dana White recently stated that he wants the UFC veteran to retire.

The answer to whether or not Penn will return to fight is expected in the next couple of months.

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  • Ron Wheeler

    Love to see him, but only if he takes it seriously. He needs to drop to 145 pounds. Modern day LWs like Bendo are too big, Never mind welterweights. And he needs some new tricks (wrestling ./ legkicks) as he was looking one-dimensional in the last few fights.

    • Sir_Roy

      I think LW is the right division for him. BJ doesn’t rely on strength or size to win his fights. Never has. His hand speed and technique are what matter most IMHO. I think he loses at least the former advantage (hand speed) moving down another weight class personally. Though I may be wrong …

      • Ian Price

        Absolutely. FW is too tough of a cut for him. He should really diet to 162-163 and cut the rest of the weight.

        • toom

          that’s absurd to say it would be to tough I agree he wouldn’t do it but he easily could I walk around 170 more ripped then bj and if I cut carbs and increase volume I can cut to 155 without even cutting much water that being said I realize bj would beat my ass

          • Ian Price

            He’s struggled with weight cuts just to 155. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but lets just see a couple fights at 155 before we even discuss a featherweight BJ Penn. he’s 34. Harder to cut weight than when you’re 24!

          • toom

            i would agree with thatI’m just saying he could do it it’s just crazy to me that some of these guys are so great and yet they don’t wanna diet people act like it’s an impossible task

    • toom

      I think he should move to 145 as well he’s a sloppy looking lightweight he could easily drop 10 lbs and be more competitive

    • julian moran

      There is no way BJ would cut to 145.

  • solo

    I wanna see PENN VS MELENDEZ soooo bad!
    But i dont think they’re gonna give BJ that fight.

    Maybe PENN VS NURMAGOMEDOV. I mean this guy is 20-0. I really believe Khabib can be a force in the division, so a possible win over legend like BJ is huge.
    On the other side Penn needs a fight like this, undefeated fighter who has some good wins lately, and he should be more than motivated to give Khabib his first loss.
    What are you thinking who he should fight???

    • JDMMA

      I think Khabib needs to fight the other Russian Sambo guy Rustam something,,, BJ should fight Melendez or Nate Diaz

      • solo

        Rustam Khabilov, the suplex guy. lol
        Yea, it make sense.
        PENN VS MELENDEZ would be AMAZING!

  • Sir_Roy

    If you really look hard at who BJ’s lost to, really consider his competition, he grows into an even bigger superstar of the sport in my eyes.

    GSP, Diaz, Rory … I mean, these guys tower over Penn physically and are the top of their division. Edgar, well, he just had “the answer” to the BJ equation at the time highlighting that styles make fights, and they win fights as well.

  • Cmon son…

    I really think he should stay retired, because not only did Rory beat him…he literally destroyed him. He lubed his a** and effed him and BJ had no answer to Rory`s combinations and power…Sorry BJ – It is time to hang `em

    • julian moran

      Who has Rory not destroyed?

    • Baller31

      He got decisioned by a much bigger fighter. So why shouldn’t he move down to 155 and compete? Who has put a beating on him at 155? No one.

      • Cmon son…

        And when the judges give the W to Benson? Then what is left there for BJ? He will not go in the cage and fight Melvin Guilard…possibly another fight with the washed up Frankie Edgar? Time has come for retirement. Be reasonable

        • Baller31

          Who says he will be fighting Benson? But in shape and motivated, like when he fought Florian or Sanchez, I think he would do well against anyone in the division, incl Benson. As long as a fighter is competitive there is a place for him….and for you to say Edgar is washed up? WTF! He lost a couple insanely close decisions to Benson (and most agree Edgar should have gotten the decision in the 2nd fight), and then gave Aldo all he could take for another very close decision. That is the opposite of washed up…that’s called badass. I guess in your world a fighter loses a match he needs to quit.

          • Cmon son…

            Where i come from, losing in is not an option. Get it?

          • Sir_Roy

            What does that dated and corny one liner have to do with sports and MMA in particular? Nothing. It’s irrelevant.

            In every fight, someone has to lose. Need they necessarily quit because of it? Failure only presents opportunity to succeed and overcome adversity. The only real failure comes when you lower your head and quit. Effort, entertainment value, content of the battle, evidenced skill, quality of opponent … all have a huge impact on whether ‘x’ fighter truly lost a fight or not. And this regardless whether or not he was “outpointed” in the judges eyes, or even finished.

            Guess what? Everyone “fails” in life from time to time. Can’t be avoided. Failure only takes effect pending what you do with it. If losing is not an option, odds are you’ll get crushed under the weight of said perceived “failure” and do nothing.

        • FightProfessor

          He went to a decision with a much larger fighter and you’re calling Frankie Edgar washed up? Sounds like you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  • Timothy Malone

    I was rewatching Season 5 of Ultimate Fighter recently and Penn was mocking Andy Wang for being a BJJ black belt that tries to slug it out on the feet. Maybe Penn needs to think about how his own words apply to himself these days. The stand-up game in MMA has evolved since Penn’s early days, especially in the lighter weight classes, and if he is going to drop to fight smaller guys then he needs to get back to his grappling roots and stop being a boxer.

    • Lucas Freire

      It isn’t that simple. The stand-up game evolved, but grappling on the lower divisions is much harder than on the heavier divisions. It isn’t that easy to get grip on a 155 or less, dynamic fighter that has fuel to hop around the octagon for 5 rounds.
      More so because BJ Penn is a BJJ prodigy,but ain’t a top wrestler like the few that comes to mind when you think about takedown on lower divisions(Gray,Chad,Faber…) one example of it is Jussier, he is a top grappler but simply can’t get a hold of anyone on the division.

      • ned sto

        What you say is true, but even when BJ gets taken down, instead of working his jujitsu, he pushes off the hips and gets back to his feet so he can work his jab some more. Instead, he should submit, or sweep.

    • RJ

      I think BJs problem with Andy was inability to listen to his coaches and got in there and did his own thing then cried like a baby when he lost.. It wasn’t about slugging it out..

  • Sean Sherk You’re Dead

    I just want to be called the greatest ever! Is that too much to ask?

  • julian moran

    There are plenty of good fights for BJ at lw. Most of them he can win as well. I would pick an in shape BJ against T.J Grant.

    Penn vs Cerrone would be a good start.

    • toom

      ha I was just thinking the same thinking I have Penn over tj all day

    • Baller31

      I agree.. I would also like to see him take on Nate Diaz.

      • bajafox

        Pretty sure he’s moving back up to 170

  • Thomas Lonardo

    BJ is great fighter and I have enjoyed alot of his fights and he is still young I just hope BJ can make a comeback

  • Baller31

    BJ should come back. In shape and motivated, he is a match for anyone at 155. No one at 155 has ever put a beating on him, he has only lost close decisions to Edgar at that weight (unless you go all the way back to the decision loss to Pulver 11 yrs ago). The only two people to finish him are GSP and Matt Hughes, even Machida couldn’t finish him, and they are much bigger and at higher weight classes than BJ. If he come back fired up, I believe he could make another run at the LW championship.

  • FightProfessor

    Everybody knows it’s all about motivation with BJ,he would be a nightmare matchup for Bendo IF in shape.

    • crashman

      I agree and i honestly cant stand Penn, but if he could focus his training into something substantial more than one and a half rounds, he’d probably still be LW or even WW champion

  • MMA

    Been saying this since he ever made the return to WW. This is his division and the one he can compete at best. The guys at WW are too big for him and are now matched with the skill in today’s MMA world. This isn’t the time where he fought one-dimensional WW’s and could beat them. I think if BJ took it seriously, he would easily be a top 10 LW right now. Would love to see him fight at LW again.

  • Cereal Killer

    Please don’t.

    • Cereal Killer

      To whoever thumb downed me; he’s 1-4-1 in his last six fights and took a lot of damage in those loses. Do you want to watch him fight middle ranked guys? That’s where he can win now.

      • The Best Eva

        His loses are to welterweights and Edgar I’m all for it. He’ll be top competition at lightweight, your not thinking straight if you think otherwise.

        • julian moran

          He also deserved the win in the first Edgar fight.

          • Cereal Killer

            Him and Shogun are guys that have a bipolar fight career. I won’t pay to see which fighter shows up.

  • BobLemons

    I’d love to see a motivated BJ return to LW. Moving back up to WW after losing his strap was the worst career decision he could make. He lost twice to Edgar for the belt and neither were devastating losses, he was slightly out-pointed. Whatever made him think he’d have a better shot at the WW belt after losing the LW belt remains a mystery to me. Anyway, I still believe a motivated BJ beats most of the LW top 10. Even if he never gets the belt back, I’d love to see him beat 3 top 10 guys in a row and then retire on a winning streak.

  • ned sto

    BJ’s skills are unarguable. But BJ’s problem is BJ. He lacks the motivation or ability to get into shape. He quit before round 5 started in his rematch against GSP. And that also reflects a weak mental game. I don’t think BJ does well against adversity, it appears to me that if the win doesn’t come easy for him, then it doesn’t come at all.

  • Kris-tyahn

    I’m no BJ Penn fan, but he could easily be a top 10, top 5 or even top 3 at LW if he worked his ass off like most fighters in the UFC today. Could he be champ again? I doubt it, but not impossible. He really needs to work on his cardio, I know he had good cardio at LW in the past, but he needs to have even better cardio vs. todays crop of LW’s. I’d love to see him train at Tristar, but that’ll never happen, I mean who’d want to improve & be a crazy 34 yr old destroyer & champ again?!? BJ would prefer to stay status quo & have people telling him he’s the greatest & when he decides to take a week off in the middle of training, they’ll say he earned it etc. If this is going to be the same BJ that fought Edgar, then forget, I’m not interested in seing a waste of talent fight at 70%, when he thinks he’s at 100%.

    • Sir_Roy

      Well said.

  • fsunoles10

    if he is dedicated i dont see why he cant go on a tear, it isnt like his chin went anywhere the guy can still take a beating if it came to that but a dedicated bj at 155 and i dont see anyone coming close to whipping bj like he has been lately.

  • Randi

    Seems at this point in Penn’s career, he’s a good 1st round fighter, and then the gas tank starts to run low!

  • li

    he should accept the invite to train at tri star with GSP.

  • Bubby Manliguis

    bra.des guy can scrap say wat you like say but at da end b.j will come back to 155 and scrap anyone in da way des hawaiian at 155 iz a hall of famer so all you guyz dat reallllllyyyy dont know da hawaiian heart bra bj will kick some azz bra hope he dose b.j us guyz from big island behind you bradha go to 155 and knock out everyone in ur way bra aloha b.j go eazzzy bra get back in plzzzzzzzzz show des guyz waz up

  • Hugh Shakeshaft


  • Roberston

    Only if he trains with MARINOVICH!!!!!!!!!!! otherwise stay outta the octo