UFC Hall of Famer B.J. Penn hints at run for governor of Hawaii, makes his COVID-19 stance clear

B.J. Penn has a laundry list of accomplishments as an MMA fighter and is now seemingly looking to build his resume as a politician.

In an Instagram post Monday, Penn, a UFC Hall of Famer, hinted at a run for governor in his home state of Hawaii. While he did not explicitly declare a campaign launch, Penn voiced a passionate political message and used the phrase “as soon as I step into Hawaii’s Governor office” to accompany his post.

The lengthy written statement accompanied a video from the 2006 movie “300.” At the end of the video, the words “Governor Penn, November 2022” flash across the screen.

It doesn’t appear Penn has launched a campaign website at this time, nor are any of his policy positions listed publicly. However, Penn’s caption indicated COVID-19 and the reduction of its restrictions will be a central focal point of his campaign.

“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but I would never run from a fight or sell out my people,” Penn wrote. “As soon as I step into Hawaii’s Governor office I will remove All new federal and state mandates that have been hurting our economy, residents, and ‘ohana. We will get the best doctors, medicines, therapies, and health care the world has to offer to fight this pandemic and always keep Hawaii among the safest and healthiest states in the union.

“We will get rid of all vaccine passports. Hawaii will be a vaccinated with Aloha and Unvaccinated with Aloha policy for everyone. Same with the masks. We will follow the constitution to the tee. I am not here to fit in with the other politicians, I am here to get our freedoms back!”

Penn, 42, is a former UFC lightweight and welterweight champion. He has not competed in the UFC since a May 2019 loss to Clay Guida. He was booked to fight rival Nik Lentz in late 2019, but the fight never happened.

Penn was released from the UFC after videos of him partaking in a brawl outside a bar surfaced online. One video shows Penn being dropped by a punch from his combatant, with another showing the Hawaiian MMA legend pummeling the individual on the ground.

Penn has a history of legal issues. In April 2019, Penn was issued a restraining order after the mother of his children accused him of years of physical and sexual abuse. In February 2020, Penn was investigated on suspicion of DUI following a single-car motor vehicle crash and subsequent blood-alcohol test in his hometown of Hilo. In January 2021, Penn was caught on video being placed in handcuffs by police on suspicion of DUI following a reckless driving complaint.