Retirement can be a difficult decision for any athlete, but it is especially difficult for UFC fighters. Damage from a lifetime of prizefighting normally takes its toll at some stage in an MMA athlete’s career, though they may refuse to admit it in some cases.
Others, meanwhile, know when to call it quits and have said their final goodbyes to the octagon at the appropriate points in their careers.
The UFC has had fighters who knew exactly when to hang up their gloves over the years, with some even calling it quits on their careers on a high note.
UFC fighters retired at the right time:
5) Bas Rutten
Former UFC heavyweight champion and three-time Pancrase world champion Bas Rutten is a legend of the sport. Rutten defeated Kevin Randleman at UFC 20 to win the UFC heavyweight championship and later vacated the title to move down to 205lbs. However, fighting further wasn’t an option as Rutten suffered multiple injuries in training and announced his retirement the same year.
Rutten fought again in the World Fighting Alliance in 2006, this time as a heavyweight against Ruben Villareal. He won by TKO at 3:24 of round one with vicious leg kicks.
Although Rutten’s retirement was unexpected, it was most likely for the best. Despite receiving harsh criticism for the scoring in his fight with Kevin Randleman, Rutten retired as UFC heavyweight champion.
Furthermore, having blown out his knee, sustained a neck injury, and broken his bicep, Rutten, 34, was unlikely to have a glorious future.
4) Paul Felder
Though Felder had been debating it for some time, he eventually decided to hang up his gloves after seeing fellow veteran fighters take a beating inside the arena.
Felder elaborated on his retirement decision during the post-fight press conference at UFC Vegas 27, “I am not going to be that guy. I have said from the very beginning of the sport, I won’t be that guy that fights past his expiration date. And I think it’s here. And may be it’s a touch early but I would rather be a touch early than a touch late.”
3) Ronda Rousey
Ronda Rousey first lost to Holly Holm at UFC 193, then to Amanda Nunes in a 28-second knockout at UFC 207. While Ronda Rousey never officially announced her retirement, she will no longer compete in MMA after 2018.
‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey went on to have a good professional wrestling career, even signing with the WWE. Rousey’s retirement came at an opportune moment, as she was likely to have a mediocre UFC career given the growing rivalry in women’s MMA.
2) Georges St-Pierre
Georges St-Pierre, widely regarded as the greatest fighter of all time, declared his retirement in 2019, having accumulated a 26-2 record.
In his most recent UFC appearance, GSP defeated Michael Bisping to reclaim the UFC middleweight championship following a four-year absence.
After dominating the sport for the better part of a decade, GSP’s ability to maintain his place on the throne eventually caught up with him.
When asked about his retirement plans, St-Pierre said, “I retired not because I can’t fight anymore. I believe I could probably be one of the best, maybe the best. But I stopped because of the stress.
“I’ve always been scared, of course, but I am scared of not being good enough, of not performing, or not being as good as I want to be. That’s what I am scared of. I am scared of myself in a way.”
1) Khabib Nurmagomedov
Although fans can still hope to see Khabib Nurmagomedov within the octagon, it appears that ‘The Eagle’ has begun to pursue other business interests.
After defending his lightweight title against Justin Gaethje at UFC 254, Nurmagomedov announced his retirement.
Nurmagomedov, who had a perfect 29-0 record, finally hung up his gloves after the death of his mentor, coach, and father, Abulmanap Nurmagomedov.