Although there has been a lot of speculation that B.J. Penn was considering retirement following his UFC 94 bout with Georges St. Pierre, fueled mostly by the fighter himself, it sounds more and more like he’s planning to return.
His trainer, Rudy Valentino, told Sports Illustrated’s Josh Gross that on their way to Vegas, Penn had indicated to him that a win probably would have meant his retirement.
In an interview with KHON-2 News in Honolulu, Penn himself sounded unclear on his future, saying, “I was going to make this my last fight and finish up fighting GSP. In my head, I was with (the UFC) for nine or ten years and I kind of just wanted to be finished with this whole thing after this. So I don’t know where my head is right now. I just want to thank all the fans that supported me all this time, over this last nine, ten years fighting.”
But over the past few days, Penn has made statements to the contrary, initially posting on his Facebook page that he was now looking to a UFC lightweight title defense against Kenny Florian sometime between May and July.
With the whole uproar about inappropriate Vaseline usage by St. Pierre’s cornermen during their fight, St. Pierre made a public statement saying that he welcomed a second rematch with Penn to prove that the controversy had nothing to do with his dominating performance in sending Penn packing after the fourth round.
Penn responded in kind on his website, BJPenn.com, accepting a third bout between the two iconic figures. “To the untrained eye the grease might not look like much, but every grappler knows the effect that it has. Being able to apply your submissions and sweeps or just being able to hold on to your opponent to defend yourself from being hit is absolutely critical! … I hereby accept George St. Pierre and Greg Jackson’s challenge for a fight in the summer 2009. Lets call Dana now and set it up.”
So, it doesn’t look like Penn is planning on going away anytime soon. It is now more of a question of what is next for the UFC lightweight champion. St. Pierre is expected to defend the welterweight title against Thiago Alves in his next bout. Although a third bout between GSP and Penn could come to fruition, it is more likely that Penn will be required by the UFC to defend his belt against Kenny Florian before anymore rematches.