When should a fighter hang up their gloves? When should a fighter stop taking punishment, knowing that their good days are far behind them? Is it when they’re at the top of the sport, but can see the fall from the top approaching? Is it when a fighter has been KO’d in more recent fights then they’ve won? Or is it a feeling that a fighter gets that tells them that enough is enough? UFC 167‘s aftermath had two of the UFC’s most popular welterweights having the word retirement surround them, with all of these questions being taken into serious consideration.
The first fighter is arguably the biggest name in the sport, the welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. Many believed that before UFC 167’s main event that the most dominate welterweight champion in UFC history would hang up his gloves. After the controversial decision was read, GSP took to the mic, saying that he needed a vacation, leaving it unknown whether a permanent retirement was on the horizon.
After this announcement, rumours quickly spread around about possible causes for GSP’s temporary retirement. After GSP cited it was due to personal issues, many pointed to his talk of losing track of time and not remembering certain parts of fights as a reason for the champ to take a break. Although St-Pierre hasn’t taken nearly the amount of damage as other fighters have, he has been in the sport for over a decade now, and the cumulative punishment that he has taken over 27 fights might be adding up.
When a fighter believes it is time for them to take a break from the sport, especially someone with the passion for the sport like St-Pierre has, it’s hard to question their decision. We’ve seen fighters stay in the sport for too long, and it may be better for St-Pierre to get out the sport after accomplishing all that he has.
The other fighter who had retirement brought up post UFC 167 is one of the sport’s most recognizable faces, and one that fans love to hate. Josh Koscheck has always been a big name in the welterweight division, and not long ago fought for the divisions championship gold. Recently though, the TUF 1 alumni has seen setbacks in the cage that could result in the end of his fighting career.
In Koscheck’s past two fights, he has been knocked around. Both Robbie Lawler and Tyron Woodley ran through Koscheck, hitting him with some serious power punches. On Saturday night, Woodley dropped Koscheck three times in one round, finally knocking Koscheck on the third drop. Back in 2009, Koscheck was knocked out cold, landing face first on the canvas in a loss to Paulo Thiago. In 2010 Koscheck was jabbed to death by current welterweight champion GSP, resulting in serious damage to Koscheck’s right eye, keeping him out of action for eight months. These four fights have done serious damage to the veteran UFC fighter, and it’s not surprising to hear that the welterweight fighter was contemplating retirement after his past bout.
Koscheck would join several other TUF 1 cast members in hanging up his gloves within the past two years. Kenny Florian announced his retirement in 2012 after a nagging leg injury forced him to retire. Forrest Griffin and Stephan Bonnar both retired with their last fights in 2012. Both were inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in July, with their incredible fight at the TUF 1 Finale being the main cause for their induction. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Koscheck join these three fighters by year’s end, as well be joined by Chris Leben if “The Crippler” is unsuccessful against Uriah Hall on December 28th at UFC 168.
Retirement is never easy in a sport as addictive as fighting. For both St-Pierre and Koscheck to be talking retirement at the ages of 32 and 35 is a trend more fighters might want to take when they reach their 30’s. Light-heavyweight champion Jon Jones recently stated that he would like to retire when he turns 30, and although it may seem like a young age for a professional athlete to retire, considering the brutality of the sport and the affect on the brain, it should be seen as a smart move. Both GSP and Koscheck could afford retirement after very successful careers in the sport, and if it they feel it is the right move, then it is time for the welterweight division to wave goodbye to two of its most prolific fighters.