Norifumi "Kid" Yamamoto
It's the circle of life. You're born, you mature, you peak, you decline, your contract expires, you go to Bellator, the insects strip you down to a pile of snowy-white bones parching in the sunlight.
What I'm saying is, I'm saying that Father Time comes for us all. In MMA, even the greatest, most electrifying careers will end. Even the most durable fighters bite the dust. Here are the next 10 UFC competitors who will soon find themselves with larger cars, softer food items and a lot more tee times.
OK, let's get the obvious one out of the way.
Chael Sonnen has said he'll take on any man God's ever made. And he's walked his talk, stepping into the breach time and time again.
He's also a natural in front of a camera or microphone, and that life has to be calling. I think the end of his fight career is closer than it may appear.
It seems the UFC's oldest fighter is ready to keep going, but it's only a matter of time. He can still win fights, but he's definitely now in a pattern of diminishing returns.
The famed kick boxer is still kicking along. But he's human. It can't be much longer until his body or his mind (or both) tells him he's reached his limit.
Josh Koscheck has dropped two straight. What's more, the only wins he has since December 2010 are a split-decision victory over Mike Pierce and the final fight of Matt Hughes' career.
It just seems like the guy has lost his fastball. And I definitely don't think he's going to find it again against Demian Maia. Especially not with all that open sky calling Koscheck's name.
He's gone winless in five of his last six, with the lone exception being Matt Hughes' second-to-last pro fight.
After losing to Rory MacDonald, Penn said he's likely to return to lightweight. That makes sense. But with fighters getting bigger and weight-cutting becoming more scientific all the time, the featherweight division might make even more sense.
Penn's last good chance at a title run or even a pro win might be there. But to date, Penn hasn't shown the desire or work ethic to make such a move.
One of the most revered men to ever don the fingerless gloves is nearing the end of the line. His condition is especially acute because that take-two-to-land-one style is piling up on him like compound interest.
Word came earlier this week from manager Ed Soares on The MMA Hour that Big Nog will be out for three months following his second arm surgery in as many years. The former Pride lion and jiu-jitsu great has been submitted in each of his last two defeats, and half of his losses have come in the last third of his career. It's not a good look for Big Nog.
Things have been pretty quiet lately on the Kid Yamamoto front. Losing all three of your UFC fights will have that effect. But the Japanese power puncher is still under the UFC's employ, and to be honest it's a little sad.
He's one of the best bantamweights ever. Why is the UFC—and Kid himself—allowing him to twist in the wind? Yamamoto will realize this and quietly walk away some time soon.
Like Yamamoto, Yoshihiro Akiyama never really got rolling in the UFC. A move down to welterweight didn't help, nor did an injury that derailed a July 2012 tangle with Thiago Alves. He hasn't been heard from since.
Dominick Cruz is currently on the shelf following a second consecutive major ACL repair. The best-case scenario as it stands is a two-year absence away from the sport for the UFC's lineal bantamweight champ. These recent photos show just how far Cruz has to go to build his leg back up to fighting shape.
Almost as importantly, have you seen him in the analyst chair? The guy is incredible. He's clear, he's insightful and he's noticeably not obnoxious. Simply a revelation. I have to imagine he's on a big-time fast track there whenever he chooses to be.
He's young, and a retirement would be sad. But his future would still be bright.