One of the toughest decisions a competitor has to make is when to hang up the gloves and call it quits. When is the right time for a fighter to walk away from the sport? There’s no definitive, correct answer. Either way, it’s always a heartbreak to see legends leave the octagon.
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Here’s a look at five retired UFC fighters we wish we could see in the Octagon again:
After a string of botched weight cuts, “Rumble” was unceremoniously booted out of the UFC following a loss to Vitor Belfort in 2012. But shortly after, Johnson reinvented himself in the regional ranks by showing off jaw-dropping knockout power at 205 pounds. He quickly found himself back inside the Octagon, thanks to newfound success at light heavyweight. In his return to the UFC, Johnson went 6-2, including wins over the likes of Ryan “Darth” Bader and Phil Davis. Unfortunately, it was a short-lived comeback, as he announced his retirement after dropping a title fight to Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. Johnson has teased that he would like to fight Jon “Bones” Jones at heavyweight someday, but so far it’s a mystery when that match will ever place.
“Rush” is one of the few who walked away at the top of the sport, as a world champion. St-Pierre announced his retirement from MMA during a press conference on Feb. 21, 2019, in Montreal -- ending the career of arguably the UFC’s all-time greatest welterweight. The Canadian, a two-division champion, had memorable victories over Matt Hughes, Matt Serra, B.J. Penn, Michael Bisping and many more. Fight fans would love to see him test his skills against the top talent of today’s era, perhaps against world-class grappler such as Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“Cupcake” holds the unique distinction of beating Holly Holm for a world championship right after “The Preacher’s Daughter” was riding high off her upset win over “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Sadly, she decided to walk away from the sport after losing the bantamweight title to Amanda Nunes, and then dropping a unanimous-decision to Raquel Pennington at UFC 205. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see Tate back in active competition again because she signed on with ONE Championship in an executive role shortly after her retirement announcement. She was one of, if not the best, female wrestlers to ever compete in the UFC at bantamweight.
Schaub retired in 2015 following back-to-back losses at the hands of Travis Browne and Andrei Arlovski. “Big Brown” walked away from the sport far too early because he was a legitimate threat at heavyweight, and one of the youngest prospects in the division at the time. His wins over Mirko Cro Cop and Matt Mitrione put him on the map, and made him a household name. While he had a strong upside, it’s understandable why Schaub left the UFC, as his bright personality helped him become a top star in the broadcasting side of the sport.
After opening his MMA career with eight wins in a row, Carwin came into the UFC with a ton of hype in 2008. This was a guy who could put your lights out with one single punch. While his UFC tenure was a bit topsy-turvy with wins over Frank Mir and Gabriel Gonzaga, and losses to Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos, it seemed as though the Colorado native walked away with a lot more left to give. Unfortunately, injuries starting adding up and Carwin shocked the world with a sudden retirement after losing to JDS. Now at 44 years old, it’s unlikely we’ll see him return to the fold. But you can never say never when it comes to legendary heavyweights. Knockout power is the last skill for fighters to lose. We would love to see him rematch Lesnar, or test his skills against a modern-day sensation such as Stipe Miocic.