B.J. Penn says UFC return bout has been pushed to UFC 197 in April

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

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

B.J. Penn’s return to active competition has been slightly delayed, as the former two-division UFC Champion announced via his website on Monday that he’ll now compete at UFC 197 in April.

Penn had expected to fight at UFC 196 next month, but said things have been shifted. He also added that it’s going to be against the same opponent he was expecting to meet at UFC 196, just a month and a half later.

“I thought the fight guaranteed was going to happen because the UFC, they set up medicals for me to do,” Penn said. “I did the medicals and they were sending a film crew down and we were getting all that together and I assumed we were setting up the fight, and that might have been what was happening. But, at the end of the day, Sean Shelby called me and said it would be more convenient for all of us to move the fight to April 23.”

The Hawaiian had retired after a loss to Frankie Edgar in 2014, entering the UFC Hall of Fame last summer, but he’s headed out to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to work with Greg Jackson, and expects to stay there in preparation for this return.

“You know what? I’m going to stay here the whole way out and train. You have heard ‘what you feed the most, grows the biggest,’ and I’m going to stay here and immerse myself in the martial arts and see how good I can get… We know that we kind of just started working together and we were just going to go out and do anything to get the victory. You know, Greg Jackson is real excited about it and we have more time for us to prepare.”

Penick’s Analysis: It’s been reported that Dennis Siver is in the running as Penn’s opponent, though no official announcement has been made. An extra month and a half delay isn’t a huge deal given Penn’s been out well over a year and a half anyway, and it’s not necessarily a return that’s going to garner tons of excitement, but it will fit better on the April event than the even bigger March event.

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

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