It’s family time for B.J. Penn, which means the UFC lightweight champion might not be back in the cage as soon as others would like.
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.
St. Pierre pummeled Penn (13-5-1) for the majority of four rounds in their 170-pound contest until the Hawaiian’s cornermen called it quits before the last stanza. The bout's outcome has been hotly contested by allegations that St. Pierre's corner used Vaseline to grease the Canadian and keep him out of the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt's grasp. Now Penn's camp wants their fighter to receive all the time he needs to re-group for his bout with Florian.
“We are still negotiating the fight,” the elder Penn said. “No date [is] scheduled, but we are thinking late July or early August.”
The UFC might be anxious for their talented lightweight champion to return to the division where he’s had the most success, but Penn has always moved to the beat of his own drum. Penn, who comes from a wealthy background, has been unhindered by the usual financial burdens other fighters have had to bare. In fact, the shortest time Penn has paused between fights since his return to the Octagon in 2006 has been four months, though he’s averaged closer to half-year hiatuses in all other cases.
“I talked to my manager Joe Cavallaro today and [UFC matchmaker] Joe Silva told him June 13,” Florian said to Sherdog.com on Monday. “That was the date they wanted because they wanted it to be the main event and the only main event. That’s what fight made the most amount of sense for June 13. July [11, UFC 100] apparently is backed up, so July’s probably out of the question, and August…”
Though it’s far from finalized and the promotion will have the final say in determining the bout’s date, an even-handed Florian (11-3) said he’d be willing to wait if he had to, especially if it meant it would produce Penn at his best.
“For me, it’s the fight that I want and it’s the fight he wants and we both need to come to terms on it, so if that’s what I need to do to make it happen, if I have to wait, then I have no choice,” he said.
Florian, 32, said he could adjust his training as needed. Still, a postponed date would effect the Boston native in a way the affluent Penn family never has to worry about.
“Schedule-wise it makes it a little difficult because money-wise, you expect a certain amount to come in and I’ve been trying to budget things accordingly,” said Florian, who earned $80,000 for his last win. “It might be a little tougher now.”
Still, the would-be challenger kept his chin up.
“Maybe they’ll say it’s in Boston,” he laughed.
Tim Leidecker contributed to this report.