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UFC explains why BJ Penn was allowed to compete despite domestic and sexual abuse allegations

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B.J. Penn not only has very serious legal issues at the moment, he also hasn’t won a fight in the last decade. So why does the UFC still bother?

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B.J. Penn has been in the middle of multiple legal issues lately. The former two-division UFC champion has an active restraining order against him, which was recently extended until October of 2021. His estranged partner detailed numerous disturbing allegations including drug abuse, threats, verbal and physical abuse, and sexual coercion.

Penn is also reportedly being investigated for threatening a farmer with a machete.

The UFC has been inconsistent at best with their supposed “zero tolerance” policy on domestic violence, and Penn was ultimately allowed to compete this past weekend at UFC 237. Reports also came out that the former champion wouldn’t be entertaining any questions concerning his legal troubles during fight week.

The 40-year-old eventually lost yet another one-sided bout, dropping a three round decision to Clay Guida. UFC executive David Shaw tried to explain their reasoning, basically saying that Penn is innocent until proven guilty.

“I think until there’s some sort of conclusion reached on that situation, and there’s information that comes to the forefront, I think that he’ll continue to have a plan to fight,” Shaw said during the UFC 237 post-fight press conference.

The Hawaiian fighter currently has the longest winless streak in UFC history, and hasn’t won a fight in the past decade. Shaw implied that if Penn’s not going to compete with the UFC anymore, it would probably only be because of that losing skid or a possible retirement.

“Now, I’m not sure having lost this fight, not having won one since 2010, that’s a pretty big skid,” Shaw said. “I’m not sure what he wants to do with his career. It’s something that next week we’ll try to figure out what the next step is, but at this point I don’t really know what that means.”

The mother of Penn’s children was granted a temporary restraining order on October 2018. The court again determined that there was enough reason to extend the said order of protection last February.

Penn has fought for the UFC twice in that time period, losing to Ryan Hall in December 2018, and again to Guida this past weekend.

He also has had numerous run ins with the law prior to these recent issues.

In 2007, he pleaded no contest to assaulting a police officer following a bar fight in Hawaii. In 2015, he was arrested after another bar fight where he brawled with one of his friends. And in 2016, he was accused of sexual assault and drug use by a former writer on his website, who claimed that Penn forced himself on the writer’s girlfriend. Police did investigate that incident, but elected to not press charges.

Support for survivors of domestic violence can be found from the following organizations:

USA - The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)

Canada - DAWN-RAFH Canada

UK and Ireland - Women’s Aid: 0808-2000-247

Rest of the World - HotPeachPages