Update: The match has been scheduled for Ufc 199 (per Kevin Iole). The previous delay involving issues of domestic violence are apparently no longer a barrier.
Originally published in February. Because we’re ahead of the curve.
After his recent announcement that he would be returning to active competition following a brief retirement, BJ Penn has a fight: BJ Penn fights Dennis Siver. Previously scheduled for March, the bout now takes place in June at UFC 199. We’d heard this rumor a few weeks ago, but now that news is trickling out from other sources, we’ll run with it.
As part of his prior announcement, Penn noted that he was relocating to New Mexico and would be working full-time under the tutelage of Greg Jackson. Say what you will, but if there’s a trainer alive that might possibly get the best out of Penn, it’s Jackson.
Further, Penn stated that he would be staying at 145 lbs, as his new goal is to claim the UFC Featherweight Championship, becoming the first man in UFC history to win titles in three separate weight classes. This is somewhat surprising, as Penn’s first – and only – fight at 145 lbs didn’t exactly go well, as he was outclassed in every area of the game by Frankie Edgar.
Penn has since blamed Mike Dolce for his poor performance, claiming that the famous (or infamous) nutritionist failed him. This lead to a brief public feud with Nik Lentz, of all people, and for a time it looked like Penn’s return would be against Lentz. Instead, it’s Dennis Siver.
The German is a longtime veteran, having competed successfully at both lightweight and featherweight. His career highlight was a stretch where he went 7-1 over a two year period. After a one-sided loss to Donald Cerrone, where he was choked out in less than five minutes, Siver made the drop to featherweight. The results have been mixed. At one point, he was 3-1-1 at the new weight, but has since dropped two in a row, to Conor McGregor and Tatsuya Kawajiri. As much as Penn needs a win, so too does Siver.
Of course, it isn’t as if Penn’s career has been stellar in recent years either. Following a roughly 6 year period where he was the undisputed best lightweight on earth, the former UFC Welterweight Champion and UFC Lightweight Champion has won just once in the past five years, that being a 30 second knock out of rival Matt Hughes. While his losses to Nick Diaz and Rory MacDonald, with a draw against Jon Fitch mixed in, all took place at welterweight, he’s three losses to Frankie Edgar have come to define the twilight of his career.
With his last fight being in July of 2014, Penn will be returning a little under two years since he last fought. That his first fight back is Dennis Siver – hardly a top contender, nor even a big name – says everything. It tells us that Penn isn’t what he once was, but that he’s also willing to take on lesser names in an effort to rebuild his career.
Time will tell if this return is a success or one final black mark on the storied career of a UFC Hall of Famer.