Some Great Fighters Have Walked Away From MMA Over the Last Two Years… Check Out Our List of the Best Recently Retired MMA Fighters…
Like it or not, even our heroes get old. Every combat sports athlete has a career lifespan. Some are better prepared for retirement than others, making sure that they have businesses and media careers to fall back upon when they finally hang up their gloves.
Other fighters have retirement forced upon them. When you take excessive damage at the tail-end of your career you’ve really got to be careful because it can affect you for the rest of your life. The number of former fighters dealing with CTE and other debilitating conditions is no joke.
With all of this in mind, let’s take a look at the best fighters to retire over the last couple of years. It’s crazy how many big names have finally walked away like a changing of the guard. In no particular order, check out below.
One of the most unfortunate endings to a career on this list, Mirko Filipovic, better known as ‘Cro-Cop’ was forced to retire after suffering a mini-stroke last year. That came only a couple of weeks after beating Roy Nelson over at Bellator. A former PRIDE and K-1 Grand Prix Champion, he never quite did it at UFC level.
However, the 44-year-old would retire with a ten-fight winning streak including fights for RIZIN in Japan and Bellator in the US. He wasn’t ready to stop before his health forced him to walk away.
There was a time when Bermudez was thought of as a potential title contender. While he never reached that level, he was still a very exciting fighter on his day. He entered the UFC via the Ultimate Fighter series and would get wins over the likes of a young Max Holloway and Clay Guida.
However, ‘The Menace’ clearly had a ceiling as he fell short against the elite of the division including Jeremy Stephens, Ricardo Lamas and the Korean Zombie. He would end his career after a win over Te Edwards in 2018. That snapped a four-fight losing streak.
One of the biggest names in MMA never to fight for the UFC, Muhammad Lawal, AKA King Mo retired this year after losing to Jiří Procházka back in April. A former Strikeforce light heavyweight and RIZIN heavyweight grand prix champion, King Mo definitely had talent.
Once again the end for former wrestler came after three straight ignominious defeats. Sometimes you have to know when to walk away and that’s what he did.
Georges St. Pierre
Arguably the greatest UFC fighter and definitely the top welterweight of all time, St. Pierre officially retired in 2018 after coming back from a four-year hiatus to win the middleweight title. He did want to fight Khabib Nurmagamedov before retirement, but the UFC refused to budge.
His legacy speaks for itself. There remains an outside possibility of him coming back once again if that deal with The Eagle gets the UFC’s blessing. The Canadian is a legendary figure.
First of all, we have to admit The Super Samoan is not officially retired – the only fighter on this list with an asterisk beside his name. However, the 45-year-old did depart from the UFC in 2018 and has not signed with any other promotion since then.
Hunt is beloved by MMA fans despite never winning a UFC title. He was a K-1 World Grand Prix champion though and his no-look walk-away KOs became iconic. A true pioneer of Oceanian martial arts.
The former US marine may not be the most decorated fighter on this list but he was a true warrior in his own right. He was given a baptism of fire by the Natural Born Killer Carlos Condit but would recover from that defeat by going on a six-fight winning streak.
That would be his best run in the organization. His last eleven fights would see only two victories and he finally retired in 2018 after losing to Bryan Barbarena. While he definitely took too much damage at the end of his career, he was a savage who fought the best of the best at welterweight.
One of the sport’s ultimate nice guys, Britain’s Jimi Manuwa retired on the same night as his friend and fellow light-heavyweight Alexander Gustafsson. An all-action fighter, Manuwa is a former UMMA champion and joined the UFC back in 2012.
He came close to a title shot once, but would be brutally knocked out five times in his UFC career, including a ludicrous head kick by Alexander Rakic. It was probably the right move for his longterm health to walk away when he did, after four straight losses.
Before Jon Jones came along, Rashad Evans was the man. The UFC Hall-of-Famer had a long and distinguished career. He won the heavyweight section of The Ultimate Fighter 2 and is a former light-heavyweight champion. He’s beaten the likes of Chuck Liddell, Dan Henderson, Chael Sonnen, and Michael Bisping in his day.
Sadly, his career would end ingloriously, as he went on a run of five defeats before retirement in 2018. Still, though, Evans was a phenomenal fighter on his day and remains heavily involved in the sport.
The Count is one of the great success stories on this list. He managed to snatch the middleweight championship from Luke Rockhold in the twilight of his career, beating Anderson Silva on a run to the top. He then very narrowly avenged his brutal KO loss to Dan Henderson in a successful title defence in front of a home crowd in Manchester, UK.
Injuries decimated him late on, with a damaged retina almost leaving him blind in one eye. The UK’s only UFC champion would lose his title to Georges St. Pierre in 2017 and then get brutally knocked out by Kelvin Gastelum two weeks later in Beijing. However, his acting career and podcast are blossoming, while he’s a regular face on ESPN. Things are going well for the Brit in retirement.
It remains to be seen whether or not the giant Swede will really step away from the octagon. Still just 32, he’s definitely got more to offer in the light-heavyweight division – or even at heavyweight. The Mauler seems to have fallen out of love with the sport after falling short in multiple title shots, including two defeats to Jon Jones and one to Daniel Cormier.
Of all the fighters on this list, Gustafsson feels like the one who could still do something dramatic if he stuck around. Maybe he’ll come back after allowing his mind to heal. If not, we wish him all the best in retirement.