Perfect Retirements for 5 UFC Fighters Who Didn't Know When to Quit
It's hard to know when it's time to quit sometimes. Most of us can likely remember a few instances when it would have been wise to let discretion get the better of valor.
Still, you trudge on anyway because it's all you know, and it sometimes takes hindsight to realize the right extraction point in a given situation.
Mixed martial artists, though they exceed the average person in most measurable skills related to fighting in a cage, suffer the same issue on occasion.
They don't know when to quit. They're thinking about that next opponent when they should be thinking about retirement.
Here are five bouts that should have been a fighter's last, because he couldn't go out any better than he would have that night; however, he kept fighting because he couldn't see that fact until it was too late.
Wanderlei Silva Against Brian Stann
Wanderlei Silva has long been one of the sport's great heroes, a guy loved for his genuine interactions with fans and throw-caution-to-the-wind style of combat. In March 2013 he returned to Japan, home of his greatest conquests, and fought Brian Stann in one of the most memorable bouts the UFC has ever aired.
The two men smashed each other all over the cage for nine minutes, wildly knocking each other about and scoring multiple knockdowns. It was the most literal interpretation of Rock'em Sock'em Robots imaginable without actual robots being involved.
It ended when a joyous Silva gave the fans in his second home one last thrill, as he finally stopped Stann late in the second round. It was Stann's last bout, one that made a man who was once a professional soldier fighting in actual wars reconsider his place in MMA.
Since then though, Silva did a full-on heel turn by becoming a hated coach on The Ultimate Fighter in his homeland of Brazil, bailing on a fight with Chael Sonnen and then getting in hot water for some dubious behavior related to a drug test.
Maybe that night in Japan should have been his last. It's hard to imagine any higher points lying ahead for "The Axe Murderer" now.
Dan Henderson Against Shogun Rua (the Second Time)
There's probably an argument to be made that Henderson, a fighter well into his 40s who lost four of five since, should have retired after his first epic win over Mauricio Rua at UFC 139 in November 2011. That's debatable.
There's no debate that he should have retired after the second one.
After getting badly knocked around by Rua in the heat of Brazil, Henderson brought some heat of his own in the form of a wild one-punch knockout that stunned the MMA community in March 2014. Henderson looked horrible in the fight, but the stoppage was so impressive that it made everything else moot.
He ended up fighting Daniel Cormier at UFC 173 and suffering another loss, this one more one-sided than any in his recent run. That fact, coupled with the early moments of the second Rua bout and the brewing storm that dropping TRT has become for Henderson's fellow users, makes it seem as if he should have walked away from the sport that fateful night in March on an incredibly memorable win.
Tito Ortiz Against Ryan Bader
When he hit the Octagon with his back to the wall at UFC 132 in July 2011, most people were expecting Tito Ortiz to lose to Ryan Bader and do so in short order. Ortiz was a broken shell of his former greatness, while Bader had been marked as a future champion for a few years at that point.
Ortiz flipped the script though, choking Bader out after rocking him with a major shot down the pipe. Even the most ardent Ortiz haters were out of their seats and cheering.
What better time to step to the microphone and say, "Guys, I needed to get one last one. This is my last night in this sport. Thanks for the support," and then roll out to the type of adulation such a decorated career deserves?
One thing about Ortiz, however, is that he doesn't know when enough is enough.
A month later Rashad Evans beat him senseless and soon after Antonio Rogerio Nogueira was taking his pound of flesh. Then Forrest Griffin beat him to conclude their trilogy.
Now, after a brief retirement, Ortiz is a fixture in Bellator and recently beat the undersized middleweight champion in totally uninspiring fashion. He celebrated that more than he ever celebrated one of his many title defenses.
He probably should have packed it in for good after that Bader win.
Rampage Jackson Against Ryan Bader
In a weird twist, Ortiz's original Bellator debut was supposed to be against Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, who also probably should have retired after a fight with Ryan Bader.
MMA is a pretty small sport, folks.
This case is a little different though, as Jackson came to his meeting with Bader in Japan in February 2012 and missed weight after being injured in training camp. He went on to lose the fight in as uneventful a fashion as one could imagine, after which he went on to lose to Glover Teixeira and then leave the UFC for good.
In a perfect world Jackson would have come to Japan in shape and motivated, ready to go to war for the country that embraced him during his years in Pride. He would have smashed Bader to pieces and then announced that, with absolutely nothing left to prove in the sport, he was moving on to acting or some other pursuit.
It would have been a fitting end for a great warrior.
Instead, he's feuding with Muhammed Lawal in Bellator after a stint in pro wrestling and apparently considering retirement at least two years too late.
Big Nog Against Brendan Schaub
In terms of fights that should have been a guy's last, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira beating Brendan Schaub is about as big as it gets.
"Big Nog" had been out for more than a year with various ailments when he rushed back to action in an effort to get in on the UFC's return to Brazil at UFC 134 in August 2011. As a national sports icon there, he couldn't miss the promotion's first show in his homeland in the Zuffa era and demanded a bout.
Skepticism was abound when he was booked against Schaub, who was seen as a heavy-handed challenge for Nogueira's weather-beaten chin. When he came to weigh-ins as a thicker, slower-looking version of the prime Nogueira that many fans knew, people grew more concerned.
On fight night, however, Nogueira stalked Schaub around the cage as is his custom and eventually put him to sleep with a thunderous combination against the cage. It was likely the loudest a Brazilian arena has been since the UFC began running shows there again.
Since then, Nogueira has had his arm snapped in half by Frank Mir, had it kind of snapped in half by Fabricio Werdum and suffered a heinous knockout at the hands of Roy Nelson. Dana White is adamant that Nogueira needs to retire, but the legend simply won't go quietly into the night.
People love him for that and for being one of the truest warhorses the sport will ever know, but that night against Schaub should have been his last in MMA.