What does BJ Penn need to find before he can return to the UFC?

SYDNEY AUSTRALIA - DECEMBER 14: BJ Penn speaks to the media during a UFC 127 Press Conference at Star City on December 14 2010 in Sydney Australia. (Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Himself.

That's according to the Hawaiian "Prodigy," who is taking some time away from the sport of mixed martial arts (MMA) to reflect on the "heartbreaking" losses he's endured over the last several years, dating back to his fourth round technical knockout stoppage (towel) against Georges St. Pierre at UFC 94.

And his pair of losses to Frankie Edgar.

While his unanimous decision defeat to Nick Diaz at UFC 137 last October was the straw that broke the camel's back, Penn is more interested in finding himself "as a person" than he is as a fighter. To that end, he's enjoying a "normal" life for the first time in 15 years.

The former two-division champion elaborates to ESPN's Brett Okamoto, after the jump.

"I’m enjoying my time away from the sport. That’s where I am right now. I’m living a regular life instead of living the roller coaster. I haven’t [lived a normal life] in 15 years. I’m trying to find myself a little bit -- not as a fighter trying to come back to the sport, but just as a person ... I’m heartbroken with the way some of the fights went. The way my UFC 94 fight [against Georges St. Pierre] and my fights with Frankie Edgar went, I’m heartbroken about those fights. I feel I could have made better choices but I don’t feel a major urge that I’ve got to go fix that right now."

Penn fans began to stir when news broke that UFC President Dana White was not only considering a pay-per-view (PPV) event at the Aloha Stadium in Hawaii, but that he also wanted its top fighter to headline the show.

Would that be enough to coax the 34-year-old master grappler out of his self-imposed sabbatical?

For now, Penn just "doesn't know" what his future holds. He's 1-3-1 over his last five fights and that lone victory came over a broken down Matt Hughes. Can he still be competitive in today's MMA landscape?

Clock's ticking...

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