Once the apple of the eye for many Big Island sports fans, BJ Penn’s reputation continues to take a hit in and out of the octagon.
A pair of videos, courtesy of TMZ Sports, showing Penn fighting a shirtless man — including one in which Penn was knocked down — outside a Pahoa bar Tuesday night were widely available across the internet Wednesday, prompting Penn’s attorney to make a statement to “correct the misinformation about what transpired,” according to the twitter account of KHON-TV’s Rob DeMello.
“Upon meeting with friends for a concert at the Lava Shack, words were exchanged between BJ and the acquaintance,” said the tweeted statement of the attorney, who was unnamed. “From witness accounts, BJ tried multiple times to diffuse the situation, but was hit repeatedly and knocked to the ground, as seen on the video.”
The Tribune-Herald was unable to reach Penn, a 40-year-old UFC Hall of Famer from Hilo, but Hawaii Police Department spokesperson Alan Richmond told MMA Junkie that police were dispatched to the area. Richmond said the disturbance was over by the time officers arrived, so no arrests were made.
“Everybody had dispersed, and the people that were standing around there didn’t know anything about anything,” Richmond told MMA Junkie. “But apparently B.J. Penn was somehow involved in the disturbance. That’s all I really have.”
If a complaint is made, Richmond said there will be an investigation.
In the second video released by TMZ, Penn and the man were brawling in the street and Penn was knocked to the ground after appearing to take a left hand to the chin before the two were separated.
In first video, Penn was seen just outside the bar landing several blows on the man’s head from the mounted position until security intervenes.
The lawyer said the footage seen on the second video precipitated what occurred on the first.
“When he got back up he was disoriented, yet realized how serious the situation and threat was (sit) and felt there was a need to defend himself.
“We are thankful that BJ nor the acquaintance were not seriously injured.”
The unidentified combatant told TMZ the altercation started after Penn hit him with a cheap shot.
According to MMA Junkie, Gary Levitt — a Honolulu lawyer who the mixed martial arts web site said is a longtime friend of the Penn family — disputed the man’s account.
Levitt said Penn is unsure why he was attacked. Penn told him the man was a longtime acquaintance and got physical after he attempted to greet him with a hug in the parking lot of the bar.
Levitt said Penn told him he wasn’t intoxicated when he approached the man.
It was unknown whether Levitt and the attorney referenced in DeMello’s tweet are the same person.
Penn has been in the news for all the wrong reasons recently, and that’s not even taking in to account that he’s lost his last seven UFC fights.
In late June, Penn fought on the ground with a bouncer at an Oahu strip club, according to TMZ video. No arrests were made.
In April, it was reported that Shaelyn Uaiwa, the mother of Penn’s two children, had filed a restraining order against Penn, alleging verbal and sexual abuse. No charges were filed.
Penn is set to face Nik Lentz in his final UFC bout, according to Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White, but a date for the fight has not been finalized.
As has become its custom after a Penn incident, the UFC has not commented yet on his status.