The Ultimate Fighting Championship has released a statement on the allegations of sexual assault against BJ Penn.
The UFC had put Penn's plans to return to the Octagon on hold earlier this year when a police report was filed in February accusing Penn of assaulting a female police officer in October of 2015. Every UFC fighter contract has a UFC Fighter Conduct Policy that fighters must agree to in order to compete within the promotion, so Penn's return was postponed to review and investigate whether the former champion had violated that agreement.The statement released today reads as follows: "Following a review of the matter by Campbell & Williams, a Las Vegas-based law firm hired by UFC to evaluate the situation, UFC has been informed that no criminal or civil charges have been filed against Penn to date, nor has any action been taken by local law enforcement. It should be noted that UFC reserves the right to reevaluate the matter should new information be made available."
The UFC has an extensive history of strict intolerance toward sexual assault and violence against women from its fighters. In 2011 UFC President Dana White released a very strongly worded statement about the release from the roster of the then highly touted prospect Maiquel Falcao upon learning of his assault charges against a female victim.
"The UFC does not and will not ever tolerate situations like this," White said at the time. "Sexual assault, hitting a woman or anything like that, you're gone from the roster. It doesn't matter if you're a winner or a champion or anything like that. You're gone. Keep your hands off women."This statement verifies that Penn (16-10-2) is on point to make his Octagon return in a battle of heavy-hitting veterans against dynamic Featherweight striker Dennis Siver (22-11 (1)) at the stacked UFC 199 card in June. Both fighters are crowd favorites who have been competing at an elite level for years, but both appear to be in the twilight of their careers with Siver going 1-3 in his last five with one No Contest ruling due to a victory over Manny Gamburyan being overturned as a result of a failed drug test. Penn has been faring no better, going 1-5-1 in his last seven, including three losses to Frankie Edgar.
But some aren't so quick to count the UFC Hall of Famer out just yet. Penn announced his retirement in 2014 after his last loss to Edgar, but in January of this year he said he was back to training, now at the legendary Jackson-Winkeljohn gym in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The renowned fight camp from that gym has produced many UFC champions, and top fighters from the sport travel from all over the world to train there."He's such a talented and great athlete, once he finds himself and finds his love for it, I think he's got a good two or three more years in him," said Penn's new head coach Greg Jackson, sometimes called "Yoda" for his uncanny ability to form brilliant game plans and reignite fighters' careers. "Why not? What do we have to lose?"
"I have a pretty good track record with helping people out in that situation, so I hope we can keep it going," Jackson continued.
[Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images]