15 MMA Careers That Will Wind Down in the Next 12 Months

Dan HiergesellFeatured ColumnistAugust 3, 2012

15 MMA Careers That Will Wind Down in the Next 12 Months

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    All good things come to an end.

    For some of the world's best mixed martial arts fighters, that motto hits home.

    Former champions, former international superstars and current divisional contenders make up a list of well-known athletes on their last leg.

    Here are 15 names destined to dwindle inside the cage within the next 12 months.

Tim Sylvia

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    Despite Tim Sylvia's relentless attempts to re-enter the UFC as a relevant heavyweight contender, he'll probably never get there.

    Whether or not Dana White and company believe Sylvia has what it takes to compete at the highest level, in reality, he doesn't.

    The UFC heavyweight division has drastically improved since Sylvia last reigned as champion, featuring well-rounded wrestlers, powerful strikers and interchangeable top contenders.

    As a 36-year-old veteran who possesses a lack luster jiu-jitsu game and a questionable chin, Sylvia's future doesn't look promising.

Yoshihiro Akiyama

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    Currently riding a four-fight losing streak, Yoshihiro Akiyama's MMA career could finally be dwindling.

    The 37-year-old has only produced one win within the UFC.

    Despite being part of three Fight of the Night showdowns, Akiyama has never looked more susceptible to defeat.

    He's definitely a Japanese legend, but following his recent Octagon woes and training-camp injuries, Akiyama's body may finally be catching up to him.

Yves Edwards

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    Yves Edwards is truly a tenured veteran, but the 35-year-old no longer poses a serious threat inside the cage.

    Losing two of his last three bouts, Edwards' UFC career is seemingly on the decline.

    He's never going to be a top contender in the lightweight division and he's never going to beat the best of the best.

    With 60 professional fights under his belt, now would be the perfect time for Edwards to call it quits and end his career on a relatively good note.

Mike Russow

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    At one point Mike Russow was considered a top-10 heavyweight in the world.

    But after getting knocked out by a submission expert in Fabricio Werdum at UFC 147, the 35-year-old no longer looks the part.

    Russow doesn't seem athletically capable of hanging around the UFC heavyweight division, considering its growth over the past two years.

    Not to mention, he's a full-time cop..

Josh Barnett

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    Josh Barnett is never going to fight in the UFC.  Dana White has too much pride to let that happen.

    That doesn't bode well for the former UFC champion considering Strikeforce's heavyweight division is going to be euthanized by the end of the year.

    Barnett is still capable of beating some of the best in the world, but what promotion is going to pay a 34-year-old top dollar to compete?

    Possibly an international entity, but that's an obscurity in itself.  Good luck, Josh.

Takanori Gomi

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    Throughout five UFC fights, Takanori Gomi has lost three times via submission.

    His game just hasn't looked the same since coming over from Japan back in 2010.

    Gomi recently secured a TKO victory over Eiji Mitsuoka at UFC 144, but that's not going to launch him back into title contention.

    At 33 years of age, Gomi still has Father Time on his side.  But with 42 professional fights under his belt, alongside a lackluster UFC career, another loss could prove deadly for "The Fireball Kid."

Vladimir Matyushenko

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    If there was ever a veteran to be swallowed whole by a diverse and more athletic division, it'd be Vladimir Matyushenko.

    The 41-year-old has had an exceptional MMA career, including two successful stints within the UFC, but he simply doesn't possess the natural ability to produce wins amongst superior athletes and younger strikers.

    The Jon Joneses and Alexander Gustafssons of the sport are feasting on the slower Matyushenko.

    Another loss or two and "The Janitor" could be sweeping up his own career.

Miguel Angel Torres

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    Miguel Angel Torres was once considered one of the best pound-for-pound fighters on the planet.

    But as good as he was, Torres doesn't seem driven enough nowadays to contend within an expanding UFC bantamweight division.

    After losing to Michael McDonald via KO, it seems as if Torres' world-class Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is finally taking a back seat to youth, power and athleticism.

Rich Franklin

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    It's very possible that Rich Franklin will inherit an opportunity to take on Anderson Silva for the third time in the foreseeable future.

    But that doesn't mean "Ace" has what it takes to contend for UFC gold.

    Franklin may one day find himself in the UFC Hall of Fame, but the veteran middleweight has been plagued with so many injuries in the past that it'd be courageous to think he'll stay healthy for a lengthy period of time.

    Once he suffers another setback, whether it be a serious injury or a devastating title loss, the 37-year-old will probably go back to teaching.

Sean Sherk

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    UFC fans have been patiently waiting for Sean Sherk to return to the Octagon.

    The former lightweight champion has been sidelined since September 2010.  Even if Sherk somehow makes a comeback within the coming year, it's difficult to picture him prolonging success after such a long hiatus.

    Also considering he's 38 years old and hasn't looked like his old self since beating Tyson Griffin back in 2008, Sherk's career, comeback or not, will more than likely fall apart within the next 12 months.

Cung Le

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    Cung Le still has the skill set to contend in the UFC middleweight division, but in reality, how much can you really expect out of a 40-year-old movie star?

    Despite a recent victory over a formidable Patrick Cote, as well as winning Fight of the Night honors in his promotional debut against Wanderlei Silva, Le has more on his plate in the coming years than getting his face beat in.

    Movies are one of them. 

    The money isn't going to last in the UFC, so when it comes down to it, Le may only have one more fight left in him.

Wanderlei Silva

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    Wanderlei Silva isn't going to fight forever.

    Once considered the most vicious KO specialist in the world, Silva doesn't seem capable of prolonging success within a growing UFC middleweight division.

    His recent loss to a returning Rich Franklin proved that if Silva can't finish in a powerful flurry, he'll most likely buckle.

    Once Dana White and Co. decide to cut ties with "The Axe Murderer," he probably won't sign anywhere else.

Dan Henderson

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    Whether or not Dan Henderson dethrones Jon Jones in September, his age is going to catch up to him.

    Known as arguably the greatest wrestling-based fighter of all time, "Hendo" has done absolutely everything in his power over the past few years to battle his inevitable clash with Father Time.

    If Henderson does not beat Jones and loses in devastating fashion, he'd probably only fight one more time in the UFC.

    Potentially in a highly sought after rematch with Shogun Rua.

Rampage Jackson

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    It's already been settled.

    Following Rampage Jackson's brawl with UFC newcomer Glover Teixeira at UFC 153, he'll retire.

    Now obviously that could change, but with a budding movie career on top of trying to preserve his MMA legacy, Jackson will probably call it quits.

    It's possible he dominates Teixeira and the UFC gives him a No. 1 contender's bout, but that's more unlikely than him not retiring.

Forrest Griffin

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    Let's call it as it is.

    Forrest Griffin looked downright sluggish in his fight with Tito Ortiz at UFC 148.

    Nobody really knows why Griffin looked just as old as a retiring Ortiz, but it could possibly be a sign of things to come.

    Griffin is currently part of a handful of UFC fighters who've been granted permission to use Testosterone Replacement Therapy, better known as TRT.

    That plays a significant role going forward in his career because if he can't naturally prepare for fights, or physically ready himself for battle, how long can he truly last?

    Griffin has never been the most technical fighter around.  He's used raw heart and the will to win in order to even out the playing field.

    If the 33-year-old can no longer makes things count inside the cage, whether ethically pleasing or not, Griffin won't wait to prolong his writing career.

Urijah Faber

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    Based on age and athletic prowess, you'd consider Urijah Faber a lock to fight for two or three more years.

    But if you take a look at Faber's mental state and the fact that he's one of those guys that's only going to compete if it's for a championship, more importantly the opportunity to lay his hands on bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz, "The California Kid" may not be around for much longer.

    Realistically, considering the wave of hype that surrounds Michael McDonald's power, as well as Mike Easton's rise within the division, Faber could go an entire year without sniffing a No. 1 contender's bout.

    If for some reason Faber can't beat a guy like Eddie Wineland, or McDonald for that matter, his career could spiral.

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