Following news of criminal allegations being brought up against BJ Penn, the UFC has decided to delay announcing his return to the Octagon.
The former UFC champion retired in 2014, but has been included in a report of assault by a 29-year-old through the Delaware (Ohio) County Sheriff’s Office. The matter, which took place in 2015 in Hawaii, has been referred to the police there.
On Thursday, UFC officials released a statement regarding the issue:
“UFC is aware of the recent allegations made against BJ Penn. The organization requires all athletes who compete in the UFC to act in an ethical and responsible manner, as detailed in the UFC Fighter Conduct Policy. UFC will not tolerate violations of the policy. Every athlete is deserving of proper review and this situation, as with any serious allegation, will be investigated by an independent party and thoroughly reviewed by the UFC. The UFC organization will also cooperate with any law enforcement investigation. In light of the serious allegations, UFC has postponed plans to book Penn for an upcoming bout until more details are determined.
UFC holds athletes who compete in the organization to the highest standard and will continue to take appropriate action, if and when warranted. It is important to note that Penn is considered innocent until proven guilty and UFC is not prejudging this matter.”
The 37-year-old Penn (16-10-2) lost to Frankie Edgar two years ago and has not won a fight since 2010 when he knocked out Matt Hughes. He is a former lightweight and welterweight titleholder, and announced his plans to return by moving his training to New Mexico and Jackson-Wink MMA earlier this year.
A former editor of BJPenn.com, Pedro Alex Carrasco, presented the allegations to the public earlier this week with a series of posts on Twitter. He confirmed that the incident involved his girlfriend and added that he has proof to back his claims.