A year passed, and as the 2015 fall turned into winter, “The Prodigy” got the itch to compete again. He contacted legendary MMA trainer Greg Jackson and uprooted from Hawaii and moved to Albuquerque, N.M., to pursue one last run at a UFC title.
“We want to get the 145-pound belt,” Penn told Inside MMA recently.
Penn is one of two fighters that have achieved championships in two UFC divisions. Randy Couture did it in the heavyweight and light heavyweight divisions. Penn did it in the 155-pound and 170-pound weight classes.
“We already know nobody is going to do the 155 – 170. Somebody might go the 125, 135, 145, but nobody is going to go 70. I don’t think so,” he said.
Losing his last three fights and going on a three-year losing streak wasn’t the way Penn wanted to vacate the sport. But his return isn’t an attempt to save face. He’s eyeing big fights.
“If I don’t think I can get the belt, there’s no reason for me to be here right now,” he said. “I’m ready. I want to fight, and I want to show everybody how good I can do.”
With Coach Jackson’s guidance, there isn’t a fighter in the 145-pound division that Penn doesn’t think he can’t beat, including champion Conor McGregor.
“I would fight Conor McGregor any day of the week. With Greg Jackson behind me, I’ll fight anybody any day of the week,” Penn said.
Penn’s title aspirations begin at UFC 199 on June 4 when he faces Dennis Siver in Los Angeles.