After months of speculation, it’s no longer a question of if, but when.
For the second time in his career, UFC Hall-of-Famer B.J. Penn will end his retirement and return to the octagon.
The Hilo native made the announcement Tuesday morning on “The MMA Hour.” Later Tuesday afternoon, Penn told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello his motivation is to be the first three-weight class UFC champion.
“I want to go get that 145-pound belt,” Penn said.
The 37-year-old former Lightweight and Welterweight champion is currently training in Albuquerque, N.M., under famed coach Greg Jackson, alongside former light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones and current women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm.
“With Greg Jackson’s help I can get that done, and I believe I will be able to walk away the only man with three titles,” Penn said. “I’m not going to lie, at this point in my life and in my career, it’s strange because I’m actually kind of nervous. I’m kind of scared. I want to go out there and put on a good performance. I don’t want to make Greg look bad. I don’t want to make myself look bad. I don’t want to make Hawaii look bad.”
It’s still unclear who or when he will fight, however, Penn says UFC president Dana White is supportive of his return.
Penn is eight years removed from being 15-5-1 with the lightweight crown, and has just one win in his last seven fights.
His last bout in 2014 ended in a third loss to Frankie Edgar.
Despite Penn’s struggles of late inside of the octagon, he credits his home state’s support for sustained confidence in himself.
“I just want to thank Hawaii so much for always being behind me,” Penn said. “We are here 15 years later and still behind me, everybody could be screaming ‘enough already, enough already.’ I’m sure there is that out there, but wherever I go, whenever I travel to any island, I’m always taken care of. The people always show the greatest respect and always give me the warmest of love and aloha.”
Penn was inducted into the Hall of Fame last July.