B.J. Penn says he’s got an opponent set for featherweight return at UFC 197 in March

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

B.J. Penn (photo credit Stephen R. Sylvanie © USAToday Sports)

B.J. Penn is coming back, wanting to make a run for the a third title in the UFC in as many weight classes, and he says he’s got an opponent set for his return at UFC 197.

The former UFC Lightweight Champion and UFC Welterweight Champion will be coming back at featherweight, and he said a fight is set for March 5 when he spoke to UFC and Fox Sports 1 broadcasters Jon Anik and Kenny Florian on their podcast this week.

“As far as I understand the opponent is already chosen and everybody is working for that goal on March 5,” Penn said (transcribed by FoxSports.com). “I talked to [UFC president] Dana White and we’re going to see how this all plays out.

“[Coach] Greg [Jackson] looks at this like a three, four, five-fight thing but I’m not letting this guy standing across from me beat me. I think they’re in this for the long haul…The plan is 100 percent to stay in Albuquerque the whole way… They’re really trying to evolve me and take me to a new level. Everybody’s got a pretty good idea of what B.J. Penn is coming with. I think they’re really trying to expand my arsenal. They’re improving my cardio, my strength. I really think they’re expanding my arsenal.”

Penick’s Analysis: I’m not sure who they’re going to have him face in this return, but given he’s wanting to make a title run, and given who he is, it’s got to be someone in the top end who can help him build to his goal. If he can look better than his last several appearances, then great, but expectations should be extremely tempered coming into this.

[Photo (c) Stephen R. Sylvanie via USA Today Sports]

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