UFC president Dana White on Thursday rolled back his decision to allow UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn one more trip to the Octagon. Following Penn’s outside-of-the-cage transgressions, White has determined that he won’t allow the Hawaiian to fight in the UFC again.
White had reluctantly promised Penn a final fight in the Octagon opposite Nik Lentz. He rescinded the fight after witnessing recent videos that were made public, which show Penn involved in two separate altercations in bar fights in Hawaii. Penn is also mired in accusations about domestic and sexual abuse.
“He won’t fight again. That’s it. That’s a wrap,” White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto ahead of Saturday’s monster UFC 242 event in Abu Dhabi.
“It’s not even that this was the last straw,” White continued. “I didn’t love him continuing to fight anyway. But when you have the relationship that he and I have and he’s getting me on the phone, begging me for another fight, begging me for another opportunity, it’s hard for me to turn him down. But after what I saw on that video, BJ needs to focus on his personal life and get himself together before he thinks of fighting again.”
White went on to say that Penn has already been notified that the promised fight with Lentz had been nixed.
BJ Penn fought almost his entire career in the UFC Octagon
Penn and White have known each other for many years and have a much closer relationship than a simple working relationship.
Penn, now 40 years old, grew up in the Octagon. He made his professional MMA debut under the UFC banner at UFC 31 in May of 2001. Though he left the UFC behind for a brief period, we would go on to become the promotion’s welterweight and lightweight champion. Penn was the second fighter to become a UFC two-division champion, following in Randy Couture’s footsteps.
Though he spent most of his career at welterweight and lightweight, Penn fought as heavy as 191 pounds when he met Lyoto Machida, who weighed 225 pounds, in an openweight bout under K-1 MMA rules. He finished his UFC career in the featherweight division having lost seven consecutive bouts. No other fighter in UFC history has been kept on the roster following such a downfall.
Dana White pulling for BJ Penn on a personal level
At this point, White is done letting Penn talk him into another fight in the Octagon. He is simply hoping that Penn can pull his life together on a personal level.
“We all know what BJ Penn needs to do. Hopefully BJ Penn knows what BJ Penn needs to do,” said White. “What I saw on that video was sad. I love the kid and I hope he gets his life together.
“If BJ Penn needed me, all he’s got to do is pick up the phone and ask.”
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) September 5, 2019
Tune in Saturday, Sept. 7, at a special EARLY START TIME of 10:15 a.m. ET / 7:15 a.m. PT for full UFC 242: Khabib vs. Poirier live results from Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. UFC lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov looks to unify his belt with that of interim lightweight titleholder Dustin Poirier in the UFC 242 main event.