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Rash of Early Retirement Plagues UFC

Anthony Johnson
Johnson’s final moments in front of UFC cameras

6/19/2017, Blake Kirkland – Another day, and most of us await the next lunch hour, pay day or for the lucky, vacation. Yet on the trajectory of life, sometimes the things you have to do simply out way the things you want to do. So when our beloved heroes, surreptitiously exit the lofty mantle of sport, it shocks us.

Just last Saturday, Heavyweight phenom Derrick Lewis 18-5-0, told viewers his fight with Mark Hunt had been his last. It wasn’t just another loss, of which Lewis had experienced little on his six fight win streak stretching back to 2015.

Lewis told announcer John Annick, “I’m getting married next week, and I don’t like putting my family through all of this so this would be my last fight. Most likely it’s my last fight in the UFC.” Additionally, the heavyweight expounded on a host of injuries that had been plaguing him, most notably his lower back. An injury common to practitioners of Jiu Jitsu and all grapplers alike.

However, Lewis has yet to be the only casualty of this premature retirement phenomena. The most awe striking being, former number 2 ranked, Light Heavyweight Anthony “Rumble” Johnson. Johnson reportedly leaving for opportunities outside the UFC, rumored to be everything from a position in the front office of the Los Angeles Rams, to the emergently legalized cannabis industry.

Despite the seismic disturbance caused by both mens exit, the rolling show of the Ultimate Fighting Championship carries on. Yet, what can be made of such sudden and inauspicious flights from the sport of cage fighting? Like Lewis and others afflicted with injuries alike, is it the grueling year-round training regimes finally taking their toll? Or rather, like Johnson, are fighters simply tired of kicking, punching and rolling around the mats with other grown men. Time can only tell; but as we move towards the next pay-per-view UFC 213, one can’t help but wonder, who might be next?

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