Dana White: I Tried to Set Up B.J. Penn vs. Gilbert Melendez

Mike HodgesCorrespondent IMay 3, 2012

Courtesy of ESPN.com
Courtesy of ESPN.com

Fans were unsure of B.J. Penn's future following his bout against Nick Diaz at UFC 137 last year.

The former UFC lightweight champion announced his retirement after losing to Diaz via unanimous decision and left fans guessing if he would ever return to the Octagon. 

However, it appears the Hawaiian was offered a matchup against Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, but Penn had declined the opportunity.

UFC president Dana White had addressed Penn's future and confirmed that "The Prodigy" is expected to make an appearance inside the Octagon.

"I tried to do [Melendez vs. Penn], but it was at the time when B.J. was like, 'Yeah, I'm not fighting for a while," White told MMAJunkie.com. "He wants to come back."

White said Penn, who sat atop the lightweight division for two years, will compete in the 170-pound division when he decides to return.

Most fans and critics would agree that Penn is a natural 155-pound fighter, but White said he has no control over Penn's decision and he can compete in either weight class.

Penn has yet to make a final decision on his return, and White said he will not force him into action until he is completely focused.

"That's up to him. Whenever he's ready. I don't ever push guys," he said."This isn't a sport where you can just say, 'I know your head isn't in it right now, but get back over here and fight.' Guys let me know when they're ready to fight."