BJ Penn wants to return to the Octagon in the not too distant future, according to UFC president Dana White.
Less than a month ago at UFC on Fuel 2 in Sweden, the former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion said that he way enjoying life away from the Octagon and that he had nothing planned soon.
However, it seems as though a conversation with White that same weekend got Penn contemplating a return to action.
Speaking after the UFC on Fox 3 press conference at the Beacon Theatre in New York City on Thursday, White revealed that Penn wanted to return and compete in the welterweight division.
“BJ Penn hit me about a month ago. It was in Sweden. I saw him there and he wants to come back, at 170lbs.”
After losing the UFC lightweight title to Frankie Edgar and then again to Edgar in their subsequent rematch, Penn returned to the welterweight division, but he's found life difficult back at 170lbs as he has won one, lost one and drawn one in his last three fights. He last fought at UFC 137 on October 29, 2011 against Nick Diaz, where he lost via decision.
Penn then took a hiatus from fighting, but in his absence, White tried to entice Penn back to action with a fight against Strikeforce lightweight champion, Gilbert Melendez, something the Hawaiian turned down.
“I tried to send BJ Penn to Strikeforce to fight Melendez. I tried to do it. But it was at the time when BJ was like 'I'm not fighting for a while.'
“I've no idea when he will return though. It's up to him.”
When pushed on the subject about Penn's return to the cage, White said: “Whenever he is ready. I don't ever push guys. They know when they are ready and guys know when they want to come back.
“This isn't a sport where you can just say I know your head isn't in it right now but get back over here and fight.
“This isn't that kind of sport. Guys let me know when they are ready to fight.”
White also added that he won't have any influence on what weight class Penn wants to fight at.
“I'm done with telling him where to go as regards weight. The guy has handled himself in both weight divisions. Plus when you get to an age, cutting down to 155lbs just doesn't make any sense any more.”