Former UFC champion BJ Penn
CORONA, Calif. – The UFC on Saturday, during the UFC Gym grand opening in Corona, announced plans to further expand its brand and partner with B.J. Penn to open another gym in Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii.
Plans are in the preliminary stages for the gym’s opening, but early indications show that the gym will be available to the Waikiki community some time in early to mid 2012.
“Now, it’s going to be the B.J. Penn-UFC Gym. I’m very excited,” Penn said while attending the Corona UFC Gym grand opening. “I got my name on a building in Waikiki. I’m happy.”
With Penn’s name attached to this new gym, one can only wonder if more fighters will follow his lead and partner up with the UFC and its gym brand around the country.
UFC vice president of community relations Reed Harris confirmed that Penn is only the beginning. In the coming years, the UFC and its gym brand plan to partner with other marquee fighters to open more gyms in several communities.
“Today, they announced the UFC Gym in Hawaii,” Harris told MMAWeekly.com. “And it’s going to be a partnership between the UFC, the gym people, and also B.J. Penn. I think that’s also something we’re going to be seeing more of is the UFC partnering with signature fighters in their areas or the cities where they’re from or training in. This is really about the brand and what it’s going to be doing. The UFC brand, in the next few years, we’re going to see this brand grow internationally. Even with the gyms, et cetera, we’re going to see product everywhere.”
Penn, in speaking with MMAWeekly.com, also confirmed there will be several programs geared towards children at the Penn/UFC gym in Hawaii. The goal of being a positive force in the community looks to be one of the main focuses for Penn and the UFC Gym brand.
“What makes me very proud to be a part of this thing is that the company involved in putting the UFC Gym on (is) very community (oriented),” Penn said. “That’s a big thing for me when I get involved with something in Hawaii.”
The UFC Gym is known for making its efforts in reaching out to their local community. The gym located in Rosemead, Calif., last year implemented a program where over 300 children in the surrounding community participated in MMA-style training, fitness conditioning, and teamwork activities. The program was designed to help children build confidence and character through field trips, assemblies, and free passes to the gym. The UFC Gym’s program offered a unique way for youth to better their physical and mental health not seen in your typical community outreach program.
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Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for MMAWeekly.com.
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