UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn had been planning on returning to the Octagon at UFC 196 on March 5, but it appears his return has been pushed back to UFC 197 in April.
“I thought the fight guaranteed was going to happen (at UFC 196) because the UFC, they set up medicals for me to do,” Penn said on BJPenn.com. “I did the medicals and they were sending a film crew down and we were getting all that together and I assumed we were setting up the fight, and that might have been what was happening. But, at the end of the day, (UFC matchmaker) Sean Shelby called me and said it would be more convenient for all of us to move the fight to April 23rd.”
“From what I understand, it is the same opponent and that is it. We’re going to meet on that card.”
UFC officials recently announced that UFC 197 would take place on April 23 in Las Vegas, featuring a headlining bout between Cormier and Jones, as well as a co-main event featuring flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson defending his belt against Olympic Gold Medalist Henry Cejudo.
In preparation for his return, Penn has been training at Jackson Wink MMA in New Mexico. That’s the same gym where Jones trains, as well as bantamweight champion Holly Holm, Donald Cerrone, Diego Sanchez, Carlos Condit, and numerous others. Penn intends to remain at the Albuquerque, N.M. based camp until his fight.
“I’m going to stay (Jackson Wink MMA) the whole way out and train. You have heard ‘what you feed the most, grows the biggest,’ and I’m going to stay here and immerse myself in the martial arts and see how good I can get.”