HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Recent sexual assault allegations against mixed martial arts champion B.J. Penn have spurred the Ultimate Fighting Championship to put his comeback fight on hold.
In a statement, the UFC said it's aware of the allegations against Penn and that the "organization requires all athletes who compete in the UFC to act in an ethical and responsible manner."
The statement continues: "UFC will not tolerate violations of the policy. Every athlete is deserving of proper review and this situation, as with any serious allegation, will be investigated by an independent party and thoroughly reviewed by the UFC.
"In light of the serious allegations, UFC has postponed plans to book Penn for an upcoming bout until more details are determined."
Penn, 37, had announced plans to return to the UFC, after retiring in July 2014. Penn had said the fight was going to happen March 5.
Earlier this week, a former staff writer on Penn's website accused the former world champion of sexually assaulting a woman. Former BJPenn.com editor Pedro Alex Carrasco made the allegations against Penn public via Twitter.
A report on the alleged incident was made to Ohio police on Tuesday; the incident is said to have happened in Hilo. According to the police report, which Hawaii News Now obtained, the case is being sent to Hawaii County to investigate. Sources there say they have not gotten the case, but that could take weeks.
Penn, a Hilo native, has been in trouble with the law before. In 2015, he was arrested for second-degree assault following a fight in Kihei. And in 2005, he was indicted for first-degree assault for punching a police officer outside a club.
In its statement, the UFC said it will cooperate with any law enforcement investigation.
"It is important to note that Penn is considered innocent until proven guilty and UFC is not prejudging this matter."