Overstaying your welcome in mixed martial arts can have dire consequences. For a fan, it’s very painful to watch a favorite fighter who’s past his prime get beaten up by a much younger competitor. MMA is not like basketball (no disrespect to basketball), you can’t just pass the ball to your teammates when you get into a bad spot, and you don’t just lose by some points when you lose a game. Fighting is not a game, its a struggle for survival. When you lose, you can get seriously hurt.
With recent research revealing the severe effects of repeated blows to the head for prolonged periods of time, the debate concerning fighters, traumatic brain injuries, and retirement has become more relevant within the MMA community. Furthermore, brain damage is not the only danger facing veteran mixed martial artists.
Over the years, rigorous training regimens can wear down the cartilage, tendons, and ligaments of the joints, many of which never fully heal. There is also the risk of nerve damage to parts of the body that frequently experience impacts of blunt force trauma.
Mixed martial artists are usually aware of the risks they are taking when they choose to pursue their professional careers. However, many of them simply don’t know when to call it quits.
Here at SciFighting, we’ve compiled a list of five professional mixed martial arts fighters we believe should call it quits. The criteria we used to qualify these fighters for our list are stated below:
1) The fighter is clearly past his physical prime and has noticeably decreased in athletic ability
2) The fighter has reoccurring injuries
3) The fighter has is no longer able to take physical damage; every time the lights shutoff, it only gets easier for it to happen again
#5) Frank Mir
Of the eight losses Frank Mir has suffered in his career, seven of them have come by way of knockout. Currently, Mir has not won a fight since 2011, dropping his last three bouts. Having most recently been knocked out in less than two minutes by Josh Barnett at UFC 164, it appears that Mir is no longer able to absorb as much damage as he used to. Also, he just looks a lot slower, like he lost the spring in his step. He is currently scheduled to face Alistair Overeem at UFC 169, if he loses, the thirty-four year old former champ should seriously consider retirement.
#4) Tito Ortiz
There once was a time when Tito Ortiz was the most dominant fighter in the UFC. As much as Dana White doesn’t want to admit it, Ortiz deserves a lot of credit for helping grow the UFC into what it is today. He has been a part of some of the highest grossing events in the company’s history. “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” is one of the most effective ground and pound fighters in mixed martial arts history. Ortiz used his strength and explosiveness to wrestle an adversary to the ground and pound him into a pulp utilizing punches and elbows from his opponent’s full guard. He ranks second only to Jon Jones in light heavyweight title defenses. Unfortunately, Ortiz’s glory days are far behind him. Ortiz has only won a single fight in his last nine, and he fulfills all three requirements for our check list. 1) He’s definitely past his prime; his strength, speed and stamina have decreased significantly. 2) He has reoccurring injuries in his knees and spine. 3) The years of fighting have worn Ortiz’s body down to where it looks like he just can’t take a beating anymore. For further convincing, watch his fights against Rashad and Nogueira.
#3) Wanderlei Silva
Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva has amassed a staggering twenty five knockouts during his professional mixed martial arts career. With the exception of a unanimous decision loss to Ricardo Arona in 2005, Silva dominated his weight class in Pride for about seven years, only dropping two fights to heavyweights Mark Hunt and Mirko Cro Cop, and losing one bout in the UFC to Tito Ortiz. The Brazilian superstar was the most intimidating fighter in the world, just watching his stare downs gave even the bravest fighters goosebumps. As of late, Silva has fallen on some hard times, he has only won four of his last seven fights. His hand speed has considerable slowed down, and his ability to take shots to the head has frighteningly deteriorated. He has completely lost his once amazing ability to clinch and recover after being dazed by a hard strike. The MMA legend is currently scheduled to coach TUF Brazil 3 opposite of Chael Sonnen. It’s unclear if the two will face off after the show is completed. If they do, win or lose, Silva should hang up his gloves before he suffers another brutal knockout.
#2) Mirko Cro Cop
Many of our younger readers remember Cro Cop as the guy with the cool checkered shorts who kept getting beaten up in the UFC. If you fall into this category, please take the time to watch his highlights and read about all that he accomplished during his heyday. Cro Cop is without a doubt the most successful K-1 kickboxer to transition into mixed martial arts. Utilizing a nearly perfectly timed sprawl, quick counter punches, and the most deadly left high kick in all of kickboxing and mixed martial arts history combined, Cro Cop was highly regarded as the No. 2 ranked heavyweight in the world, right behind Fedor Emelianenko, for quite some time. Since getting a taste of his own medicine by Gabriel Gonzaga at UFC 70, the Croatian Sensation has never been the same. His once lightning fast reflexes have appreciably slowed down, his infamous left high kick is not as explosive as it was during his Pride days, and he gets easily knocked out by fighters who aren’t even known for their striking. At thirty-nine years of age, the Croatian national hero should call it quits and retire. He has nothing to be ashamed of, and his highlights will continue to entertain fans for many years to come.
#1) Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira
Finally, the first place slot on our list goes to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira. “Big Nog” was once the Pride heavyweight king before being dethroned by Fedor Emelianenko, but that didn’t stop him from continuing his career as one of the greatest fighters on the planet. Nogueira has racked up a total of twenty-one submission victories in his MMA career and is highly regarded as one of the best submission fighters in the world. He holds wins over Dan Henderson, Mirko Cro Cop, Tim Sylvia, Randy Couture, and many other former champions. During his prime, Nogueira was known for being able to persevere through the most brutal beatings imaginable and still be able to pull off a submission victory before the fight would end. It appears that the many years of getting punched and kicked in the head have finally caught up with him. Nogueira was knocked out for the first time in his career by Frank Mir in 2008. Slightly over a year later, he was knocked out again by Cain Velasquez in the first round. During that fight, it appeared as though even soft jabs from Velasquez were stunning him. Afterward, he had his arm brutally mutilated in a rematch with Frank Mir, and again in his second fight with Fabricio Werdum. Ed Soares, Nogueira’s manager, has recently revealed that the thirty-seven year old is planning to make a return in 2014, but for the sake of his own health, he should just retire.
I’m sure we missed some. What are some fighters that you think need to call it quits?