B.J. Penn is in the midst of a seven-fight losing streak, but that hasn’t prevented the Ultimate Fighting Championship from booking him in another bout.
Last week, UFC president Dana White confirmed that Penn will face Nik Lentz at an upcoming event. While the exact date isn’t yet official, UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi on Sept. 7 has emerged as a frontrunner for the fight.
It’s a sudden change of heart for White, who vowed that he wouldn’t offer Penn another bout following his loss against Clay Guida at UFC 237 this past May.
“No, I want B.J. to retire,” White said. “I love B.J. Penn. B.J. Penn is one of the legends of the sport. This is a young man’s game. I gave him a lot of opportunities because he’s B.J. and because of the relationship that I’ve had with B.J. his entire career and before that.
“But I can’t do that again. I can’t do it again.”
White explained that Penn’s persistence ultimately led to him backtracking on those remarks. However, the promotion head is adamant that he won’t offer “The Prodigy” another fight after he faces Lentz.
“He terrorized me for freaking a week and wouldn’t stop texting me for three days straight,” White said at the UFC 240 post fight press conference on Saturday night. “Talked me into it. We have a deal now — win, lose or draw, this is B.J. Penn’s last fight.
“I won’t give him another fight. It’s very clear between us that there won’t be another fight no matter what. If all you people who are concerned are doctors, give me a call. If you’re not, then mind your business.”
The 40-year-old Penn hasn’t tasted victory since a first-round knockout of Matt Hughes at UFC 123 in November 2010. The former two-division champion hasn’t been competitive in many of his matchups since, leading many in the MMA community to voice concerns for his health. That includes White, who says if Penn chooses to fight again beyond Lentz it will have to be in a different organization.
“I’ve voiced my concerns. I’ve known B.J. Penn since he was he was like 19 years old. B.J. is going to do what B.J. wants to do,” White stated. “I’ve had a very crazy relationship with him and his family for the last 20 years. B.J. walked me through a million reasons why he needs this fight and why he has to have it. He talked me into it. You guys know me, when I’m in, I’m in and I’m going to do what I’m going to do. So we’re doing this.
“He’s promised me that win, lose or draw, he will retire after this fight. We’ll see if he keeps his promise.”