B.J. Penn returns against Dennis Siver at UFC 199, UFC says facts on sexual assault allegation “aren’t too substantial”

By Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief

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

The investigation into an alleged sexual assault by B.J. Penn hasn’t brought anything substantial, according to the UFC, as Kevin Iole at Yahoo Sports reported on Tuesday morning that they’re booking the UFC Hall of Famer for a return fight at UFC 199 this June.

Per the report, Penn’s featherweight return will come against Dennis Siver on the June 4 card, which hits The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., on pay-per-view.

“We have taken a look at the available facts, which aren’t too substantial, and there are two stories of what happened,” said UFC’s chief operating officer Lawrence Epstein. “To date, there has [been] no action at all taken by any law enforcement agency. We decided to allow B.J. to fight. However, we are going to continue to monitor to the situation. If new information, more information, becomes available to us, obviously, we reserve the right to reevaluate.”

The 37-year-old announced earlier this year he was coming out of retirement, and was tentatively slated to return at UFC 196 and then UFC 197 before his former BJPenn.com editor accused him of assaulting his girlfriend in an alleged incident in 2015. A police report was filed after the accusations were made public, but there’s been no further movement on an investigation.

Penn hasn’t fought since July of 2014, where he suffered his third straight brutal loss in his featherweight debut. The former UFC Lightweight Champion had fought four fights in a row at welterweight, beating Matt Hughes in their trilogy bout, fighting to a draw with Jon Fitch, then getting decimated by Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald in back to back fights. He took 2013 off, then returned in 2014 to coach the Ultimate Fighter against Frankie Edgar, getting stopped in the third round at the finale event.

Siver’s been out of action since last June, where he dropped a decision to Tatsuya Kawajiri. That was his second straight loss of the year, having been beaten by Conor McGregor in January.

UFC 199 will be headlined by two title fight rematches, as Luke Rockhold defends the Middleweight Title against the man from whom he took the belt in Chris Weidman, while Dominick Cruz and Urijah Faber have their rubber match for the UFC Bantamweight Championship almost five years after their second fight.

Penick’s Analysis: They’re running the risk of needing to cancel another booking here should something more substantial happen with the allegations, but it should also be noted that a lack of credible investigation in a sexual assault case doesn’t mean nothing happened. That’s the unfortunate nature of criminal sexual assault cases, in that the burden on the alleged victim to prove what happened can often be too great for them to get justice if something did, indeed happen. We simply don’t know in this situation, especially with how long between the alleged incident and it being reported. Again, doesn’t mean there isn’t something there, but the UFC doesn’t think there’s enough for them to keep him sidelined at the moment.

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

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