With little more than a week to go until UFC Fight Night Manila, former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn has been forced to withdraw from the main event due to injury.

‘Baby J’ was set to make his long anticipated return to the Octagon to take on Ricardo Lamas for the UFC’s return to the Philippines but has suffered an injury during training and will not make the trip.

The withdrawal is yet another stumble for the UFC Hall of Famer, who at the start of the year announced his intentions to return one fight at a time. Since, however, the 37-year-old’s comeback trail has been plagued with setbacks.

Penn was first set to return at UFC 197 in April. But that was scuppered after the Hawaii police launched a second degree sexual assault investigation following allegations made by the girlfriend of a former employee. UFC COO Lawrence Epstein claimed these allegations could not be substantiated, and the organization cleared Penn to return at another date. 

He was then booked to fight Dennis Siver at UFC 199. However, a month before the event, the German pulled out due to an undisclosed injury. After Cole Miller agreed to step in on short notice, Penn was then removed from the card after being flagged by USADA after admitting he had used a medically-administered IV during a non-fight period, something which is banned year round. 

That then brought us to this fight with Lamas, who is now looking for an opponent following Penn’s latest set back. BJ, now training with Greg Jackson in New Mexico, has yet to make any public comment either via the UFC, his own website or on social media.