As photos of a B.J. Penn appearance at Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, N.M., began to surface on social media over the past couple days, rumors of a comeback by the Hawaiian began to pick up steam.
“The Prodigy” added fuel to the fire on Wednesday in an Instagram post, as he called out UFC featherweight Nik Lentz.
“This is a formal challenge for Nik Lentz to meet me in the Octagon March 5 in Las Vegas. Nik, you wrote a silly poem about me making fun of me; you said stuff about me and my parents, and you been making a #bringpennback hashtag,” Penn wrote. “I ask you today to be a man and back up everything you said; talk the talk, walk the walk. Uncle B.J. is mad already.”
Penn announced his retirement following a lopsided loss to Frankie Edgar at “The Ultimate Fighter 19” finale on July 6, 2014.
“Frankie did a great job,” Penn said in the Octagon following that defeat. “I shouldn’t have come back. I shouldn’t have been in the ring tonight. [UFC President] Dana [White] said it was over, and I’ve got to agree with him at this point.”
That loss marked the end of a stretch in which Penn tasted victory just once in seven outings. In the aftermath, Penn feuded with trainer Mike Dolce, who also counts Lentz among his clients. While blaming Dolce for his loss to Edgar, Penn called out Lentz during an appearance on UFC Tonight late last year. Meanwhile, Lentz penned the aforementioned poem mocking the former champion.
Penn has yet to formally announce that he is coming out of retirement, and it is unclear if the Las Vegas-based promotion would welcome him back. If he did get his wish, UFC 197 would provide a large audience for a comeback, as the March 5 card features a lightweight title duel between Rafael dos Anjos and Conor McGregor as well as a 135-pound championship tilt pitting Holly Holm against Miesha Tate.