Sports are littered with luminaries who couldn't easily kick their addiction to the spotlight. Michael Jordan, Jerry Rice and Willie Mays are among the superstars who ended their careers with unfamiliar teams and badly eroded skill sets.
The danger is literally greater for MMA fighters, for whom hanging on too long can mean big knockouts and various other dehumanizations. Chuck Liddell and Kazushi Sakuraba are two of the more noteworthy examples.
Going out at the right time, then, is an important art form in mixed martial arts. Because I couldn't narrow it down to five, here are six guys who not only picked a good time to go, but went out on an impressive winning note.
Final fight: May 25, 2012
Cole Konrad has one of the more unconventional retirement stories in MMA. But that's precisely what makes it so worthy of remembering.
A national champion college wrestler, Konrad won and defended the Bellator heavyweight title, running his record to a perfect 9-0 in a submission win over Eric Prindle before later calling it a career. But he traded in his fingerless gloves for a job as an agricultural commodities trader.
Final fight: April 11, 2008
The UFC OG had a great run in MMA promotions around the globe. He won his ostensibly final fight in 2001 before returning to action in 2007. He went 2-0 after unretiring, and in his final fight, he scored a first-round submission on one Mark Kerr. Not too shabby.
Final fight: March 30, 2012
Gilbert Yvel scored a one-punch knockout in what turned out to be his final MMA fight (though he didn't formally announce his retirement until this summer). His final victim? UFC veteran Houston Alexander in the fledgling Resurrection Fighting Alliance.
Final fight: July 22, 2006
Some fans may have cringed when Bas Rutten came out of retirement in 2006. After all, when Rutten first walked away in 1999, he did so as the UFC heavyweight champ.
They shouldn't have worried. Rutten defeated Ruben Villareal in his return match by first-round leg-kick TKO.
Final fight date: Aug. 14, 2011
The consummate journeyman, Chris Lytle went out in about as perfect a fashion as possible. "Lights Out" handed a note to UFC president Dana White at the weigh-in for his fight with Dan Hardy at UFC Live. The note said he was retiring. Lytle went on to submit Hardy in the main event and net Submission and Fight of the Night bonus checks in the process. Not only was it a nice going-away gift, but it put Lytle in the record books for earning the most UFC post-fight bonuses.
Final fight: December 31, 2006
The Picasso of the ring entrance was also a pretty darn good fighter. So it shocked a lot of people when, at age 28, Genki Sudo announced his retirement in the ring after a first-round submission of Damacio Page on New Year's Eve. In MMA, though, it's certainly better to leave too early than too late.