Suspension, be damned. Former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion BJ Penn (pictured) has been issued his next assignment despite the fact his six-month ban for illegal IV use doesn’t expire until September 25.
On Monday, the UFC announced Penn will headline the promotion’s return to the Philippines on October 15 against Ricardo Lamas.
Penn came out of retirement for the umpteenth time in January. He was slated to fight Dennis Siver at UFC 199, then Cole Miller, before getting pulled from the show after admitting to his IV use during a random, out-of-competition drug test.
“The Prodigy” claimed he was unaware that IVs were banned year-round.
Penn, 37, initially called it quits after getting blasted by Nick Diaz at UFC 137 in October 2011. The Hawaiian decided to return to the cage 14 months later, but was once again was steamrolled, this time at the hands of contender Rory MacDonald.
Instead of walking away again, Penn decided to try and reinvent himself by dropping to featherweight.
Unfortunately for Penn, Frankie Edgar rained on his parade and sent him on another trip to the retirement home – but not before thrashing his face with firsts and elbows.
It was arguably the worst Penn had ever looked during his UFC Hall of Fame career.
Penn, the only fighter in UFC history to don the lightweight and welterweight crowns, was hoping to rejuvenate his career in the featherweight division this time around.
Lamas has alternated between wins and losses over his past four outings. The former featherweight top contender was most recently seen dropping a unanimous decision to red hot Max Holloway in June.
SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, Manila will host the festivities. It has not been announced how UFC Fight Night 97 will be made available for live viewing in America.
Here is the card’s current lineup:
Derrick Lewis vs. Marcin Tybura
Ricardo Lamas vs. BJ Penn