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B.J. Penn announces his return to fighting will come at UFC 197, not UFC 196

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

B.J. Penn is still coming out of retirement. It just won't be as quickly as he thought.

Penn announced via his website,, that he will be competing against an unnamed opponent at UFC 197 on April 23 in Las Vegas. The Hawaiian legend said he was originally planning on fighting at UFC 196 on March 5.

"I thought the fight guaranteed was going to happen because the UFC, they set up medicals for me to do," Penn said. "I did the medicals and they were sending a film crew down and we were getting all that together and I assumed we were setting up the fight, and that might have been what was happening. But, at the end of the day, [UFC matchmaker] Sean Shelby called me and said it would be more convenient for all of us to move the fight to April 23."

Penn, 37, said it's his understanding that it will be the same opponent he was going to face at UFC 196. Ariel Helwani reported last week on UFC Tonight that Dennis Siver has been a name bandied about.

The UFC has made no official announcement about Penn's return fight.

Penn, a UFC Hall of Famer, said he would be staying in Albuquerque to train at JacksonWink MMA right up until April 23.

"You have heard ‘what you feed the most, grows the biggest,' and I'm going to stay here and immerse myself in the martial arts and see how good I can get," Penn said.

Penn's new teammate Jon Jones will be in the headliner of UFC 197, attempting to get his light heavyweight title back from current champion Daniel Cormier. In the co-main event, Demetrious Johnson defends his flyweight title against Henry Cejudo.

Penn (16-10-2) is one of only two men, along with Randy Couture, to hold two titles in different weight classes in the UFC (welterweight and lightweight). He will be making his return in the featherweight division. Penn has not fought since a loss to Frankie Edgar in July 2014. He has not picked up a UFC win since 2010 when he knocked out fellow legend Matt Hughes.

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