MMA: Power Ranking the Fighters Who Retired in 2011

Jeffrey McKinneyContributor IIIDecember 7, 2011

MMA: Power Ranking the Fighters Who Retired in 2011

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    While 2011 has been a great year for the UFC and MMA as a whole, it’s also been a year that many great fighters have decided to call it quits.

    While some retirements were expected, others were shocking.

    It’s always sad to see the greats go whether they need to or not.

    But whether they can’t compete on the level that they used to or they just flat out are not motivated to fight anymore, every fighter has their day.

    Here are the top fighters who have said goodbye this year. 

Honorable Mention: Matt Hughes

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    Matt Hughes is one of the greatest mixed martial artists to ever fight in the sport. 

    Hughes is a two-time UFC welterweight champion, has defeated every former or current welterweight champion except Pat Miletich, and is a UFC Hall of Famer. 

    Hughes not only fought all competitors, he often finished them. 

    After his loss to Josh Koscheck, Hughes hinted at retirement, but never officially made that announcement. 

Kurt Pellegrino

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    Kurt Pellegrino not only retired once, but twice this year.

    The first time came after losing to Gleison Tibau at UFC 128.

    Pellegrino came back to the sport eight months later to take on Patricky Freire at Bellator 59.

    After suffering a TKO loss, Pellegrino retired once again.

    Although he never won a title in the UFC, Pellegrino does have one “Fight of the Night” award and two “Submission of the Night” fight bonuses. 

Ricardo Almeida

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    Retirement isn’t something that’s new for Ricardo Almeida.

    After winning the Pancrase middleweight title by defeating Nate Marquardt, Almeida fought once in Pride then retired from MMA.

    Almeida returned to MMA four years later, fighting at UFC 81.

    Although he had some success in the UFC, Almeida decided to retire from the sport once again, saying he wasn’t 100 percent focused on fighting.

    Almeida hasn’t left the sport completely, though. Since retiring he has become an MMA judge in New Jersey. 

Matt Hamill

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    Matt Hamill did not have to win a single bout in the UFC and he still would have been considered one of the most inspirational fighters in MMA history.

    Hamill will be remembered by some as just a deaf MMA fighter, but he was actually successful at it.

    Hamill proved that despite any disabilities that you may have, you should never let it stop you from living out your dreams.

    Hamill has been in some big fights in his career and has wins over Mark Munoz, Tito Ortiz and a DQ win over Jon Jones.

    Hamill may not have ever fought for a title, but he was one of the true heroes in the sport. 

Chris Lytle

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    Chris Lytle never fought for a UFC title in his career.

    Yet he has more Fight of the Night bonuses than any other fighter in the UFC.

    The full-time Indianapolis fireman may not have been the most technical fighter in the world, but Lytle knew how to put on a good fight.

    Lytle could still hang with anybody, even at age 37.

    Despite this, Lytle decided that the time was right to step away from the sport.

    Lytle's main reasons for leaving were to spend more time with his family and to focus on running for state senate. 

Mirko Cro Cop

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    One of the most feared strikers in the history of MMA was Mirko Cro Cop.

    Cro Cop was a top heavyweight contender in Pride and won the 2006 Open-Weight Grand Prix.

    Cro Cop was not able to really find the same success in the UFC that he had in Pride, though.

    After being known as a guy who knocked people out with his vicious leg kicks, Cro Cop was knocked out in his final three fights.

    Although we knew it was Cro Cop’s time to leave the sport, it was still sad to see him go. 

Randy Couture

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    Randy Couture was the first man to win a UFC title in two different weight classes, has held more UFC titles than anybody else and was the oldest person to win a UFC title.

    Most people could only dream of being the shape that Couture was in at age 47.

    Although you could argue Couture was past his prime, the fact that he won three straight fights before facing Lyoto Machida at UFC 129 was an amazing feat.

    Couture is a guy that could have retired five years ago let alone this year and the impact would have been the same.

    The time for Couture to leave was right, but the UFC was losing one of its true legends. 

BJ Penn

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    BJ Penn’s retirement was as shocking as it was sad.

    After suffering perhaps the worst defeat of his career, Penn announced that he was stepping away from the sport.

    Penn may have been 1-3-1 in his last five fights, but don’t let the record fool you.

    One of his losses was a close bout with Frankie Edgar that could have gone his way.

    He also fought to a draw with Jon Fitch, ending the welterweight contender's long winning streak. If Penn had more in the gas tank, he could have easily took the fight. 

    Penn’s one of the greatest fighters in MMA history and is the only man beside Randy Couture to win a UFC title in two different weight divisions.

    Penn may have called it quits for now in the Octagon, but he’s staying busy outside of it.