I thought the fight guaranteed was going to happen because the UFC, they set up medicals for me to do. 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, Sean Shelby (UFC matchmaker) called me and said it would be more convenient for all of us to move the fight to April 23rd.
An April 23 return would have Penn fighting at UFC 197 in Las Vegas. On Sunday, ESPN.com's Brett Okamoto reported a rematch between Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier will headline the event. Putting Penn on the undercard would only build anticipation for the pay-per-view.
The UFC has yet to announce Penn's opponent. FoxSports.com's Damon Martin reported Dennis Siver is the front-runner, and the company will likely make a decision soon after setting an official date for the fight.
Penn's last fight was a defeat to Frankie Edgar in July 2014, after which the 37-year-old retired. Speaking with Ariel Helwani on The MMA Hour in January (via Shaun Al-Shatti of MMAFighting.com), he announced he was returning to mixed martial arts.
Before losing to Edgar, Penn was showing signs of decline. He had dropped his previous two fights and had one win in his last six, which came against an aging Matt Hughes in 2010. While he's maintaining realistic expectations, Bleacher Report's Jeremy Botter is excited to see whether Penn's trainers, Greg Jackson and Mike Winkeljohn, can squeeze one more run out of the legendary fighter:
Jackson and Wink—they have a thing for this, for taking the broken-down dudes we don't believe in anymore, the ones we believe should hang 'em up, and then making them an unlikely return-from-the-grave success story. If this were just BJ Penn deciding he's bored and wants to make some money, I'd be all vomity at the notion of him stepping back in the Octagon.
With UFC pushing back the date of Penn's fight, Jackson and Wink will have more time to prepare the fighter.
In that sense, the delay could be a blessing in disguise for Penn.