On Tuesday's news-packed edition of FUEL TV's UFC Tonight, Ariel Helwani revealed that BJ Penn is contemplating a return to the Octagon at 155 pounds:
“Ariel Helwani does a great job with what he does but I think sometimes he puts words into fighter’s mouths,” Carrasco said. “I think that unless you hear something from BJ directly or one of us directly, somebody from BJPenn.com, if we actually hear it directly, as long as it’s a source from BJ, then it’s probably not 100-percent factual ... I believe it to be that if B.J. was going to announce a comeback he would probably do it through me, on this radio show, on BJPenn.com not through Ariel Helwani ... That’s the relationship we have with B.J. I’m not saying that Ariel was completely wrong in his report I’m just saying, he didn’t have any quotes from B.J. or interviewed him, he just kind of spouted off some stuff that may or may not be true."
Penn, one of just two fighters in UFC history who have won championships in two weight classes (the other being Randy Couture), has fallen on rough times recently.
The world-renowned Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt is just 1-4-1 in his past six fights, remaining largely unheard from ever since his lopsided decision loss to Rory MacDonald at UFC on FOX 5 in October.
UFC president Dana White recently put Penn on blast at the post-fight press conference for UFC 160, calling for the all-time great's retirement (via MMA Junkie), though even that was not enough to elicit a response from The Prodigy.
Lightweights Khabib Nurmagomedov and Evan Dunham have both already expressed their interest in a matchup with Penn if he does decide to make one more run inside the cage (via MMA Junkie).
While Helwani has not directly addressed the claims made by BJPenn.com, he did make some general comments on the situation on Wednesday via TwitLonger.
Seeing some fighters ask for a fight against BJ Penn "when" he returns. For the record, my report last night stated that he has left the door open for a return, but he is still undecided at this time. He could be done for good, or he could come back. He's getting back into training now to see if he is mentally and physically willing to get back into MMA. That process will probably take several months.
Have we seen the last of Penn inside the Octagon, or is the Hawaiian gearing up for one last run after a dozen years in the fight game?
John Heinis is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He is also the MMA Editor for eDraft.com and contributes MMA videos to The Young Turks Sports Show.