June “Too Early” for Penn Return


B.J. Penn. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Those expecting B.J. Penn’s next lightweight title defense to come against Kenny Florian at UFC 99 in June might have to wait a bit longer. According to today’s featured story on Sherdog.com, it seems that Penn would like a bit more time to spend with his new daughter before stepping back into action:

UFC President Dana White told multiple press outlets last week that Penn’s next title defense against No. 1 contender Kenny Florian was a possibility for UFC 99 on June 13 in Cologne, Germany. However, Penn’s older brother and manager J.D. told Sherdog.com on Monday that the date is not feasible for his celebrated sibling.

“No, it’s too close to BJ’s last fight,” the elder Penn wrote in a text message. “He wants to spend time with his baby.”

Penn, 30, welcomed his first child, daughter Aeva, to the growing Hilo clan in October 2008. However, the new father spent a substantial amount of time thereafter promoting and training for his Jan. 31 mega-fight against UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94 in Las Vegas.

Penn’s camp is pinpointing late July or early August as the date they would like to return at. Florian is quoting as saying that he would like to fight in June for financial reasons, but would be willing to wait for Penn regardless. The main card for UFC 100 is reportedly “backed up” according to Florian, leaving very little room for a second championship bout at the show.

It’s completely fair for Penn to want to spend more time with his daughter. After all, he took part in a grueling training camp and press tour prior to his rematch with GSP in the months after she was born. Still, it’s also unfair for Florian to have to wait so long for his well-deserved title shot. Fighting only once in ‘09 probably won’t sit too well with Florian. Hopefully the two sides and the UFC can come to a meeting point that pleases all parties.

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