As MMA grows, there seem to be a plethora of fighters out there that want to fight the best. UFC, for all it's glory, hates to have good competition, and not that I blame them, it's just not good business. Taking that into consideration, the UFC must churn out great fights with great fighters in order to keep their audience hooked. As the sport has evolved, so have the fighters, and it seems that the goodies of old just end up looking like the oldies from another time. So with so much new talent just waiting in the wings, and the UFC not wanting other promotions to have better fights, why are we still seeing the same guys that just won't leave? Here is a look at my top 10 fighters that should retire (in my humble opinion) or get a desk job for the UFC at the very least.
Also known as Captain America in the community, Couture barely made the list, although he tops many on the list by about 5-10 years of age. Every time he fights, there are many people who just don't think that Couture has what it takes anymore to stay at the top of his game. Time and time again he proves us wrong. Recently, The Natural dropped back down to light heavyweight and proved that he was still worthy by outclassing Branden Vera, then handily beating fellow antique Mark Coleman. With a new division to work on, only time will tell if his age will finally catch up to him.
Probably the person I least want on this post, but definitely worthy. With only 10 losses to his career, six have come in his past 10 fights. Since the fall of Pride, he has only been able to top mediocre fighters (Bisping and Jardine). With his recent surgery, and a drop to middleweight, some spark seemed to still be there in his recent battle with Bisping, but do not look for Silva to make a run for the belt, at best he will serve as gatekeeper for a few more years.
In the North American circuit, thinking of fighters past their prime or overwhelmed by competition, rarely do I think of the lightweight division. Unfortunately that's where Uno falls. A decade ago, Uno fought people twice his size and finished them in quick manner with the flexibility and superb submissions. He is 0-3-1 in his past 4 fights only squeaking out a draw over UFC newcomer Fabricio Camoes (who recently was cut by the UFC). While some fights in Japan may bring some money for the name draw, it seems as if Uno's time has come and gone.
Once one of the most brutal fighters of all time, Cro Cop has now become a shadow of his former self. His UFC debut was hyped up so much that everyone though he would dominate the division in a matter of a year or two. It seemed that time had other plans. Gonzaga was his first test and it ended exactly how everyone expected it to, just with Gonzaga's hand raised instead. The signature head kick brutally knocked out the Croatian early in the first round. He followed with a sluggish performance against Kongo, losing a decision. His last fight was a victory, though his opponent seemed hand picked, and offered little in terms of offense. From the man Fedor once said was his toughest opponent he ever fought to a fighter barely able to finish opponents that stand in front of him, it seems like a different fighter all together now.
With an impressive 13-12 record, it still amazes me that Baroni is still employed by any promotion, much less the UFC. Although he put on a show, and has the mouth to hype any fight, he's never really been that good. The last fight he won against top competition was Dave Menne back in 2002, which just so happens to be the only big name he has a win over. It's past the time for Baroni to either move on to smaller shows, or put down the gloves.
Yet another legend on the list. Like Couture, Lidell has brought the UFC into the 21st century giving us battles that will long last in our memories. Current coach on the Ultimate Fighter, Lidell seems to be at the point of retirement (even Dana White is pushing him there). Since his loss to Quinton Jackson, everyone has figured out his game. Liddell backs up and waits until you chase him, then throws an overhand right ... every time. He is currently 1-4 in his past four fights, though they are over top tier competition. Unfortunately he was knocked out three of those times, each time taking longer to recover in the cage. It not only is needed for his own health, but now it seems to be shedding bad light in the sport, and with New York still holding out, it may be the best move for everyone involved.
One half of one of the greatest fights ever aired on TV. Bonnar fought opposite of Forrest Griffin to be the first Ultimate Fighter. Griffin went on to win, but the fight showed that both had enormous potential. Unfortunately for Bonnar, Griffin continued to win while Bonnar settled for mediocrity. He excels at beating lower tier competition, but whenever faced with a top opponent, he ends up on the wrong end of a one sided fight. Dana White has previously stated that he would not fire Bonnar, and with his extracurricular activities within MMA, Bonnar would be a good addition to the broadcasting team in some way, shape, or form ... just not a fighter.
Ortiz may be putting himself out of the sport with his recent debacle with the police. Just yesterday he was arrested on charges of domestic violence. Even if the incident doesn't end his UFC career, there were rumors that his coaching opposite of Chuck Liddell was cut short due to injury. With Ortiz being sidelined for over a year in the recent past, it wouldn't be unlikely that he re-injured his back or neck. But all of the above aside, his fighting ability has seen better days. He is 0-3-1 in his last four fights, although all loses have been to top opponents. His simplistic ground and pound style presents a problem as the younger new fighters come in with the knowledge to get around his style. His coaching on the show is a pleasant possibility, with his gym, he could hold onto the sport, but should definitely leave the fighting to someone else.
I know that he has already been released by the UFC, but I'm sure that if they were looking for someone to fill in and Coleman was within reach, they would snatch him up in a heartbeat. Let's all hope that never happens. Coleman is the classic definition of age catching up with a fighter. At one time, Coleman held the heavyweight belt, and was a force to be reckoned with; now he his a withered old soul looking to keep his dream alive. It saddens me to see an icon of the sport look so out of place, but time will only show that there are more and more MMA legends that will reach this point.
By far, the hardest thing to admit. The Gracies 'built this house', but unfortunately do not rule the roost anymore. We've seen Royce come back only to be embarrassed by Hughes, then we saw Rolles (the youngest and the heaviest) literally gas into nothingness in a matter of minutes. Lastly there was hope in Renzo. Renzo was literally obliterated by Hughes with leg kicks. Though they brought the sport to where it is today, and still are one of the best BJJ teachers in the business, when it comes to fighting in the cage, it seems they are at an impasse. There are enough Gracies left to make a comeback, and I, for one, hope that this will come true, for now I will find some old DVD's and reminisce about the glory days of past.
While we all love the legends that have built this sport, we have to all realize that we are now at the beginning of fighters needing to retire, with it comes some heartache as we see our heroes humbly (hopefully) put down the gloves. With that, there is a silver lining which is some of the greatest prospects to ever grace the sport of MMA.