UFC Hall of Fame fighter and two-division former champion BJ Penn (16-10-2) will officially end his retirement when he returns to the Octagon to fight Dennis Siver (22-11, 1 NC) at UFC 199 on June 4. UFC president Dana White on Tuesday confirmed the bout to MMAWeekly.com content partner Yahoo! Sports.
Penn, 37, will be making his first trip to the Octagon since losing in his featherweight debut to Frankie Edgar in The Ultimate Fighter 19 Finale in July of 2014. Despite his failed attempt in his 145-pound debut, Penn opted to give featherweight another shot in his return.
Having owned both the welterweight and lightweight belts at different points during his career, Penn could make history if he is able to realize his dream to eventually capture the featherweight crown. First things first, he has to get past Siver and prove that his shift to JacksonWink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., was a fruitful decision.
Siver, also 37, is a reasonable return fight for Penn to gauge his current skill level. Once considered a lightweight contender, Siver has struggled to attain the same level of success at featherweight, having lost his last two fights to current champ Conor McGregor and Japanese legend Tatsuya Kawajiri.
Aside from the struggles of returning to fighting at a relatively late age, Penn has also faced personal hurdles, as a former employee accused him of sexual assault.
The UFC made the Penn vs. Siver fight after an internal investigation found that the charges against Penn could not be substantiated. That according to Lawrence Epstein, the UFC’s chief operating office, who told Yahoo! Sports, “We have taken a look at the available facts, which aren’t too substantial, and there are two stories of what happened. To date, there has no action at all taken by any law enforcement agency. We decided to allow B.J. to fight. However, we are going to continue to monitor to the situation. If new information, more information, becomes available to us, obviously, we reserve the right to re-evaluate.”
UFC 199 takes place on Saturday, June 4, at The Forum in Los Angeles. UFC middleweight champion Luke Rockhold puts his belt on the line against the man he took it from, Chris Weidman, in a main event rematch.