When is it time to step away from the cage?

The topic of retirement seems to rear its head after nearly every UFC event recently. We’ve seen a few “legends” of the octagon decide that it’s their time to walk away when they still could put on a decent fight. At the same time we’ve seen some big names step back into the cage following long absences and get demolished. This article is going to look at some of the fighters who’ve hung up the gloves recently and some who need to really think long and hard about if they should ever step into the cage again.

Calling your shot: Urijah Faber

Making his MMA debut all the way back in 2003, Faber decided to call it a career after winning his last fight against Brad Pickett back in December. Urijah now 37, was still one of the top 10 ranked bantamweights in the UFC but decided to step away and focus his energy on training the next generation of talent with Team Alpha Male, which he founded in 2004, including current UFC bantamweight champion Cody Garbrandt. This seems like a good decision for Faber as he was able to walk away on his own terms and didn’t tarnish his reputation by staying on the scene for too long. A 13 year career is more than most fighters can ever dream of, and Faber’s skills both as a trainer are more than enough to keep him busy.

That one surprised us: Miesha Tate

Another fighter with nearly a decade of experience, Miesha Tate shocked the MMA world when she retired following her loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 back in November. Pennington dominated the fight and Tate didn’t look to be the same fighter she had been when she won the bantamweight title from Holly Holm back at UFC 196. The loss was also her second in a row after she dropped the belt to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 in July. Tate had an amazing career and was a pioneer for getting women’s MMA fighting on the map. She inspired a number of rising fighters both men and women. At 30 Tate still has her whole life ahead of her and can explore other options that don’t include getting punched in the face.

The waiting game: Rhonda Rousey

Another fighter with nearly a decade of experience, Miesha Tate shocked the MMA world when she retired following her loss to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205 back in November. Pennington dominated the fight and Tate didn’t look to be the same fighter she had been when she won the bantamweight title from Holly Holm back at UFC 196. The loss was also her second in a row after she dropped the belt to Amanda Nunes at UFC 200 in July. Tate had an amazing career and was a pioneer for getting women’s MMA fighting on the map. She inspired a number of rising fighters both men and women. At 30 Tate still has her whole life ahead of her and can explore other options that don’t include getting punched in the face.

Go… Just Please Go: BJ Penn

If there is a fighter right now who needs to seriously walk away it’s BJ Penn. I wrote in my Fight Night Phoenix Preview that Penn, who was coming of a two an a half year absence, might still have a chance against Yair Rodriguez if Penn could get inside and take it to the ground. He couldn’t, he didn’t and he got stopped less than 30 seconds into the second round. At 38 years old Penn has accomplished everything he’s ever going to in MMA. He made his debut all the way back in 2001 at UFC 31 and is a former Lightweight and Welterweight champion in the UFC. He’s also a UFC Hall of Fame member. Penn is a legend, no one is going to dispute that fact, but he hasn’t won a fight since 2010 when he beat Matt Hugues at UFC 123. He still has the name recognition to get fans, even some casual ones interested in his fights, but he isn’t, at least not at the moment, a top 15 fighter in any weight class. He looks old and slow and if he decides to stick around his competition is only going to keep getting younger and faster. His coach Jason Parillo was interviewed following Penn’s loss in Phoenix and said he’d be supportive of Penn retiring. At this point I think just about everyone would.

Walking away from active competition doesn’t mean that any of these fighter need to completely abandon MMA. Passing their knowledge along to the next generation ala Matt Serra, Pat Miletich or now Urijah Faber. The UFC has a huge talent pool that are all looking to get their shot at the title and while big names may create a buzz and sell a few pay-per views (I’m looking at your Bellator 170 Tito Ortiz (41) vs. Chael Sonnen (39)), but fans want to see action and real competition. Trotting out someone who is past their prime and watching them put themselves at risk of getting seriously injured for the sake of a “big” payday isn’t going to keep fans buying tickets or streaming subscriptions or pay-per views.

What do you think? Were we too harsh? Who do you think should consider calling it a career? Tell us in the comments.

Image from ufc.com

 

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