There comes a time when it’s not just wise, but mandatory for a professional fighter to call it quits. MMA is a dangerous sport that tends to produce concussions, broken bones, dislocated limbs and in a very select few instances, even more. There’s no reason to loiter with the lions if your ability to defend yourself has all but disappeared.
Unfortunately, not everyone knows when to hang them up. Some feel as though there are no career options for them post-professional competition, and some simply burn with the desire to fight. Regardless of the category, when it’s time to walk away, it’s time to walk away.
Ken Shamrock: Shamrock has discussed retirement more than once in his career. Who can blame him? He’s been competing since 1993, with 45 fights under his belt. He’s picked up just three wins in his last ten bouts, and his health is now a thing of question. Approaching 50 years old, there is little doubt that Ken needs to hang them up and being that it’s been over a year since his last fight he may have finally done so.
Kazushi Sakuraba: “The Gracie Hunter” has been fighting nearly as long as Shamrock, but amazingly, he’s absorbed even more punishment in his fifteen plus years fighting. From dislocated shoulders to broken orbital bones to a severed ear, this man has been drug violently through the trenches. With nearly 45 fights on his ledger, there is little left to prove for the Japanese star that once defeated elite opposition in Vitor Belfort, Guy Metzger and Royce Gracie. Now on a four fight skid, it’s time for “Sak” to stop talking about retiring, and just do it.
Tito Ortiz: Ortiz still seems to be a fairly intelligent, articulate man. That doesn’t mean his body can withstand much more damage. Once a dominant 205 pound champion, Ortiz’ skills have now seemingly fallen by the wayside. With just three victories in his last ten bouts, Tito’s proven he’s still hungry, but the game has long since passed him by. It’s time to head home and dedicated his time to a whole different full-time job: being a father.
Jens Pulver: Jens’ loveable, sensitive personality in MMA have long endeared him to fans; he’s a class act inside and outside of the cage. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s little more than a shadow of his former self. The days of fearing his punching power are gone, replaced by the stigma of, ironically, becoming a mobile punching bag. “Little Evil” is still capable of beating C level fighters, but he finds himself in a world of hurt whenever taking a step up in competition these days, and as the sport evolves, the talent only increases. We’ve heard plans of his retirement for years now: it’s time to live up to those promises Jens.
Hayato Sakurai: “Mach” is an interesting character for the simple fact that every few years he’ll piece together an impressive win streak, toppling quality opponents. However, at 36, dealing with the inconsistencies he faces, it may be the perfect time to exit the game while his brain is still fully functional. He totes plenty of stellar wins on his résumé, but he’s got a gross amount of defeats to inferior competition to counter his success. A bout with Ryo Chonan sits on the horizon, and should he lose that match, he’ll have dropped six of his last ten. Now is a good time to exit: while fans still remember the wonder that was a prime “Mach” Sakurai.
Written by: Tony Hackerott
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