MMA is a constantly evolving sport with a revolving door of athletes entering and exiting. Currently, fighters from the era that helped make the sport so popular are beginning to trickle away from competition and hang up their gloves in order to move on to the next chapter in life.
If there’s one thing that’s well known about combat sports retirements, though, it’s that they often don’t last long. The urge to compete, and perhaps more importantly get a payday, will continue to drive fighters back even well beyond their expiration dates.
2017 has seen an uptick in notable fighters announcing they’re done with the sport, and The Blue Corner has kept a running list of those who have decided in favor in retirement.
* * * *
Mirko Filipovic (Jan. 3)
Although this song and dance with 42-year-old heavyweight legend “Cro Cop” has happened several times before, the PRIDE and UFC veteran claimed “this is definitely the end” following his surprising run through the Rizin FF open-weight tournament in December.
Tim Kennedy (Jan. 17)
Former Strikeforce middleweight title challenger and decorated military man Kennedy flirted with the idea of retirement for quite some time. He made it official following a TKO loss to Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 206.
Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (Jan. 19)
After a disappointing 0-3 run during her UFC career, women’s strawweight fighter Jones-Lybarger opted to step away from competition after just 10 pro fights.
Tito Ortiz (Jan. 21)
Ortiz, who is one of the most notable fighters and personalities in MMA history, made it known well ahead of time that his Bellator 170 fight with Chael Sonnen would be the last of his career. He won, and thus far the former UFC light heavyweight champion has stuck to his guns.
Aisling Daly (Jan. 30)
Although Irish MMA is all about Conor McGregor, the credit for raising the profile for the women’s side of the sport in the country goes largely to Daly, who was forced to retire against her own will after a brain scan revealed an abnormality.
Ricardo Abreu (Feb. 3)
Two U.S. Anti-Doping Violations (USADA) within the span of a handful of months caused Abreu to announce his retirement. His two-year suspension froze when he mad the announcement, so if he ever wants to come back, there’s a long waiting period ahead.
Cody Bollinger (Feb. 12)
Former WSOF title challenger Bollinger lost three of his final five fights before he announced his retirement, citing the desire to spend more time with his family. He left the door open for a return “far, far down the road.”
James Moontasri (Feb. 13)
After going 2-4 during his UFC career, Moontasri, who bounced between the lightweight and featherweight divisions, said he was ready for something different in life following a loss to Alex Morono at UFC on FOX 22 in December.
Brock Lesnar (Feb. 14)
Former UFC heavyweight champion Lesnar has retired before, but after flunking multiple drug tests around his comeback fight with Mark Hunt at UFC 200, it’s possible this one could actually stick. Lesnar has been rumored for another comeback, but he must first enter the USADA testing pool and serve the final six months of his suspension.
Phillipe Nover (Feb. 15)
After a career which included two UFC stints and a run to the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter 8” where he received comparisons to Anderson Silva from UFC President Dana White, Nover decided his time in the sport was done following a loss at UFC 211.
Cody Pfister (March 3)
Not many fighters have the strength to go out on a win, but that’s exactly what Pfister did when the 27-year-old surprisingly announced his retirement after wining his Bellator debut at Bellator 174.
Marloes Coenen (March 3)
Women’s MMA pioneer Coenen fell short in her last shot at glory when she lost to Julia Budd in the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight title fight at Bellator 174. She announced her retirement in the cage immediately afterward, but has made a smooth transition out of the sport by picking up some broadcasting reps for Bellator and Spike.
Nam Phan (March 11)
Prone to putting on exciting fights throughout his more than 15-year career, Phan lost seven of his final 10 bouts before a 21-second loss under the ACB banner prompted him to retire.
Ian Entwistle (March 18)
Much of the damage sustained by fighters comes inside competition, but outside of it weight cutting can be just as harmful. British bantamweight Entwistle unfortunately fell victim to the harsh physical tolls and retired after withdrawing from consecutive UFC fights on either weigh-in or fight day.
Brad Pickett (March 18)
Although he didn’t get the storybook ending in his hometown that he desired, Pickett’s long and successful career came to an end in his native London when he lost to Marlon Vera at UFC Fight Night 107. “One Punch” went out as a trailblazer for the sport in his country and as one of only two men to defeat current pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson.
Patrick Cote (April 8)
Former UFC middleweight title challenger and one of the top Canadian fighters in history, Cote, decided 34 career fights (with 21 under the UFC banner), was enough for him. He retired after a UFC 210 loss to Thiago Alves, but still keeps close to the octagon as the promotion’s French-language commentator.
Anthony Johnson (April 8)
One of the most surprising retirements of the year so far went to knockout specialist Johnson, who suddenly decided he didn’t want to fight any more following a submission loss to Daniel Cormier in a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 210. “Rumble” cited his desire to explore other business opportunity, including a venture into the marijuana industry.
Miguel Torres (April 19)
Once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, former WEC bantamweight champion Torres waved the white flag on his more than 17-year fighting career when with an emotional retirement announcement.
Gilbert Smith (June 14)
Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” was a shot at redemption for a group of fighters whose UFC careers did not go as planned. Smith was on the cast, but after being bounced from the tournament in the quarterfinal round, admitted his passion for the sport had fizzled.
Neil Seery (July 16)
Irish flyweight Seery made his plans to retire from the sport known more than a year before it actually happened. His retirement fight was delayed twice over due to last withdrawals by his opponents, but finally it happened at UFC Fight Night 113. Unfortunately, the result didn’t go his way.
For more on upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.
The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.