UFC Retirement Fights We Want to See in 2013
Compared to the likes of the NFL, MLB, NHL and NBA, the UFC is still a very young sports organization.
Some of the promotion's original stars still step inside the Octagon today. However, the time is drawing near for some of those UFC legends to call it quits. Several of those historical MMA figures are likely to fight for the final time at some point in 2013.
B.J. Penn returned from a temporary retirement in late-2012, but a loss to Rory MacDonald could prompt him to retire for good in the near future. Others won't be far behind, so let's take a look at some fights that should be made to help say goodbye to those who have helped grow MMA over the past several years.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Josh Barnett
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Josh Barnett are both entering their late-30s and have taken a lot of punishment throughout their long MMA careers.
While the former heavyweight champions are coming off of wins and could probably continue to compete for a few more years, fans would much rather see them go out a bit early rather than be forced out of the game due to physical damage.
Since Nogueira and Barnett had some of their best years while competing for Pride FC, it would be nice to see one or both of them retire with a fight that paid homage to the defunct Japanese MMA organization.
In the final three months of 2006, Nogueira and Barnett squared off twice in Saitama, Japan.
Barnett won the first meeting by split decision in the semifinal round of the 2006 Pride Openweight Grand Prix. That close fight led to a New Year's Eve rematch, which Nogueira won in another bout that went to the judges' scorecards.
Should he lose when he fights opposing TUF: Brazil coach Fabricio Werdum in June, Nogueira should close out his career with a fight against Barnett, who is expected by many to re-join the UFC as part of the Strikeforce merge.
Shane Carwin vs. Frank Mir
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In March 2010, Shane Carwin brutally finished Frank Mir with punches to earn the UFC interim heavyweight title.
Much has changed since then, though.
Carwin lost his belt in a rough defeat to Brock Lesnar and hasn't won in the nearly three years that have passed since he beat Mir. Conversely, Mir bounced back with three straight wins and earned a shot at reclaiming UFC gold, though he lost to then-champion Junior dos Santos.
Although Mir came up short against Dos Santos, he's still in a much better position now than Carwin, who has been plagued with injuries.
At 38 years old, Carwin might be starting to wonder how much he has left in him. Should he decide he only wants to come back for a curtain call, a bout with Frank Mir could make sense regardless of whether or not Mir beats Daniel Cormier in April.
Dan Henderson vs. Mauricio Rua
Dan Henderson is 42 years old, and Mauricio Rua seems to be fading after years of abuse inside the cage.
If Henderson loses his upcoming fight against Lyoto Machida, the end probably won't be far away for the former two-division Pride FC champion.
Considering his fight with Rua in November 2011 was considered one of the most entertaining of all time, there wouldn't be too many who would object to Henderson fighting "Shogun" in his farewell fight.
Quinton Jackson vs. Muhammed Lawal
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After losing to Glover Teixeira at UFC on Fox 6, Quinton Jackson is likely headed to a different organization.
While Jackson probably wouldn't interested in partaking in Bellator's tournament format, which sees winning fighters compete multiple times in a short period of time, "Rampage" could be looked at as an option for one of the "superfights" the promotion holds from time to time.
Once Muhammed Lawal glides through the somewhat lackluster light heavyweight tournament he is now competing in and dethrones either Christian M'Pumbu or Attila Vegh to become Bellator 205-pound champion, he'll be hoping to fight some big names.
Though Lawal probably wouldn't be defending his title in the potential matchup with Jackson, Bellator could seriously benefit from the attention that a "Rampage" fight would bring its the organization.
Hopefully, the fight would also provide Jackson with a pay day that would allow him to call it quits because a future as a modern day Gary Goodridge is not something "Rampage" can actually want.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Vitor Belfort
Wanderlei Silva's nearing retirement has been a point of discussion for quite some time as he has continued to struggle inside the Octagon.
However, Silva is now set up to fight Brian Stann in a fight that doesn't appear to be his last.
A rematch with Vitor Belfort, who beat "The Axe Murderer" prior to his glory days with Pride FC, would bring Silva's career full circle. The two MMA greats were expected to fight last summer after coaching against one another on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil, but a Belfort injury ruined that matchup.
Now the skill gap between Silva and Belfort seems to be growing by the day.
Following his fight with Stann, Silva should take some time and wait for a fight that would be worthy of being his last. If Belfort loses in his next appearance, the time would be right to re-book a fight between the Brazilian veterans.
Matt Hamill vs. Krzysztof Soszynski
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Matt Hamill recently returned from a temporary retirement, but he was unimpressive in victory against UFC newcomer Roger Hollett. With another showing like the one he had against Hollett, Hamill could decide he made the wrong decision to come back.
Similarly, Krzysztof Soszynski was heard contemplating retirement in one of UFC president Dana White's video blogs after a loss to Igor Pokrajac in December 2011. Soszynski has since decided against calling it quits, but he was forced to withdraw from a recent matchup due to injury.
Should Hamill lose his next fight and Soszynski have a slow recovery, there's a chance the two light heavyweights could meet in a double retirement fight in late-2013.
Cung Le vs. Chris Leben
Cung Le is coming off of a huge knockout win over Rich Franklin, but the 40-year-old actor-fighter is getting up there in age and has other means of supporting himself outside of being punched in the face.
At some point in the near future, Le is going to walk away.
There's been some rumblings of a fight between Le and middleweight champion Anderson Silva, but that's crazy talk. Instead, Le should slug it out with Chris Leben toward the end of 2013 and leave on a high note.
Rich Franklin vs. Tim Kennedy
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Rich Franklin has had a great career, but the 38-year-old hasn't been an elite fighter since leaving the middleweight division after losses to Anderson Silva.
After a brutal knockout loss in his most recent appearance, Franklin is looking for one last notable opponent against whom he has a reasonable chance to win. Strikeforce import Tim Kennedy has the perfect mix of name value and talent to fit that description.
The matchup would draw attention and should be entertaining whether standing or on the ground.
B.J. Penn vs. Takanori Gomi
B.J. Penn returned from a temporary retirement for a fight with Rory MacDonald at welterweight. While Penn didn't look great against the rising Canadian, there are still many who believe he can contend in the lightweight division.
There's a strong possibility he won't fight again. However, Penn should take one shot at a 155-pound contender, and if he loses, a follow-up fight with fellow lightweight great Takanori Gomi would be a good way to wrap up his legendary career.
Mike Brown vs. Manny Gamburyan
Mike Brown recently decided against retirement and signed a five-fight contract with the UFC, but it would not be surprising to see the 37-year-old call it quits before completing that deal.
Should Brown decide to hang them up in 2013, it'd be nice to see the former WEC champion get a chance at avenging one of his late-career losses.
A bout with Manny Gamburyan would give him a reasonable chance to do that.