UFC Hall of Famer BJ Penn is battling back against allegations of sexual assault made against him by a former employee that put his return to fighting on hold this week.
A former editor from Penn's website levied accusations at the fighter for an alleged incident that took place between the fighter and his girlfriend in 2015.
Police are investigating the matter and on Thursday the UFC put Penn's return to action on hold while they completed an internal investigation into the situation as well.
The former lightweight and welterweight champion released a statement via his representative on his website late Thursday night refuting the charges and claiming that his former employee is doing nothing more than extorting him after their business relationship ended.
"The allegations that Pedro (Carrasco) and his girlfriend are making against BJ Penn simply aren't true," Penn's representatives said. "Penn trusted Pedro to run his website for almost a decade and considered him family. He was fired last year for unethical behavior and was provided a severance that ended on February 16, 2016. One day later allegations appeared in a one sided Twitter rant which happen to be many months after the alleged date in question. (August of 2015).
"There are many holes in Pedro's story. In the almost 15 years that Penn has been a champion fighter there has not ever been any incident or allegation in regards to his conduct with women. He is family man and father of two young daughters with a known long term girlfriend. It is unfortunate that someone that BJ considered family is trying to extort him."
Penn has been training and preparing for a return to action at UFC 197 in April after retiring from the sport in July 2014.
The allegations against him forced UFC officials to put Penn on the shelf for the time being as they look into the situation. While authorities are looking into the case, Penn hasn't officially been charged with any crime as of yet.