When is it time for a world class fighter to retire? In the second part of our End of the Line series, we’ll check out the Light heavyweight ranks to see who might need the Chuck Liddell retirement package.
The retirement question is a touchy one in mixed martial arts. Many factors need to be taken into account when attempting to answer it, and perhaps it can’t be answered as long as a fighter is cleared to compete by one of the inept athletic commissions we’ve come to admire. Punishment taken over the course of a career, financial incentives, age, title aspirations, and CTE are all things fighters should ponder as they give themselves the Joe Rogan Talk. Is a little brain damage worth another paycheck? It’s conceivable. Not smart — but conceivable.
No one can say for sure when it’s time for a mixed martial artist to hang up the gloves, but when losses start to add up inside the octagon and a UFC Championship is out of reach – it’s time to at least consider hanging up the gloves.
Some of these fighters could be paraded out for years to come as part of a young UFC lion/lioness’ next meal, or allowed to headline television cards as gatekeepers until their health diminishes to the point of early dementia. But which UFC Middleweights should leave the sport now that the time is right before they die in the cage?
Antônio Rogério Nogueira (22-8)
Notable Wins: Kazushi Sakuraba, Alistair Overeem, Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, Vladamir Matyushenko
Antônio Rogério Nogueira aka Minotouro aka Little Nog is a Pride Legend that has been around since the early 2000’s and made a name for himself in Japan by fighting some of the best names in the world.
Minotouro entered the octagon at the tail end of 2009, and debuted with a first round knockout of the night over Luiz Cane at UFC 106 and followed that up with a split decision over Jason Brilz at UFC 114 in May of the next year.
Then Lil’ Nog lost five of his next eight, with his three wins coming over the likes of Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans, and Patrick Cummins.
Nogueira lost his last fight to Ryan Bader in 2016 via TKO and was set to return against Jared Cannonier last December at UFC on FOX 26, but USADA put a halt to that on October 19.
Lil Nog failed a damned drug test, ahem, was informed of a potential anti-doping violation stemming from an out-of-competition sample collected in late September 2017. The substance he tested positive for was Hydroclorothiazide – the same diuretic that caused the UFC to yank Junior dos Santos from his scheduled UFC 215 bout with Francis Ngannou.
At 41 years old with a suspension — now served, the end result being a tainted supplement — an aging Minotouro will at best get a tough test in his UFC return as the UFC attempts to freshen up a stale 205lb division. Lil Nog’s days as a top 15 light heavyweight in the UFC are over.
Perhaps a few Pride rematches are on the horizon in either Bellator or Rizin, in lands far, far away from Jeff Novitzky (or in Texas.)
Ed Herman (23-13, 1 NC)
Notable Wins: Glover Teixeira, Rafael Natal, Tim Boetsch
Ed ‘Short Fuse’ Herman was The Ultimate Fighter Season 3 Runner Up back in 2006, as he lost to Kendall Grove in the middleweight final. Herman was granted a UFC contract after the fight with Grove at TUF: Team Ortiz vs. Team Shamrock Finale was awarded Fight of the Night honors.
Herman would go on to fight 20 times in the UFC, not including the time he went over to Strikeforce to fight Jacare Souza while still under UFC contract – the only figher in history to do so (Chuck went to Pride, but that was PRIDE, not Strikeforce). Under the Zuffa umbrella, Short Fuse would be awarded Fight of the Night honors twice (Kendall Grove, Trevor Smith), Knockout of the Night once (Joe Doerksen), Submission of the Night once (Chris Price, Scott Smith), and Performance of the Night once (Tim Boetsch).
A TKO loss to Derek Brunson at UFC 183 sent Herman up a division to Light Heavyweight – where he currently resides. At first, things looked promising as Short Fuse finished Tim Boetsch via knees in January 2016. Since then Herman has been dealt back-to-back losses to Nikita Krylov (KO), and C.B. Dolloway (unanimous decision).
In September 2017, Ed Herman did ‘a thing’ to his finger – a really terribly bad, awful thing:
“I try to be handy, which obviously I’m not that handy,” a degloved Herman told MMAFighting shortly after the accident.
Herman hasn’t revealed his future plans yet, but perhaps it’s because he doesn’t know. Under the old ownership, the UFC may have offered Herman another fight after two straight losses because of his status as a TUF veteran, but to WME-IMG, Ed Herman is just an unranked light heavyweight who is 1-3 in the last three years. At 37, Herman may find success in outside of the UFC in a number of organizations outside of the UFC, but ole’ Ed’s days inside the octagon are likely behind him.
Mauricio Shogun Rua (25-10)
Notable Wins: Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, Antonio Rogerio Minotouro Nogueira, Alistair Overeem, Ricardo Arona, Mark Coleman, Chuck Liddell, Lyoto Machida, Forrest Griffin
Mauricio ‘Shogun’ Rua was the 2005 Pride Middleweight Grand Prix Champion and former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, and a future UFC Hall of Famer. Rumor even has it that he’d beat Jon Jones under Pride/Rizin rules to this day.
Shogun is currently riding a three-fight winning streak, having defeated Lil Nog at UFC 190 via decision, Corey Anderson at UFC 198 via split decision, and Gian Villante at via TKO at UFC Fight Night 106 last March. That places him at #7 in the world currently, even after a year of inactivity.
The UFC announced recently that Shogun has ‘No Time’ though, as in – he was just booked to fight against Volkan ‘No Time’ Oezdemir in the organizations first trip to Chile on May 19 at UFC Fight Night 129 (ahem… more on that later). That’s not an easy fight for anybody and it’s even more challenging after a 16-month case of cage oxidation.
Shogun doesn’t believe it’s time for him to call it quits just yet, as he told MMAFIGHTING:
”People still ask me to retire today. I’m on a three-fight winning streak and people say ‘why this guy hasn’t stopped yet?’ So what should the guys that I beat do? Kill themselves? If I won and have to retire, imagine what they would say to those who lost.”
With a fourth straight win here; Shogun is at most one fight away from a title scrap with Daniel Cormier. The only one who could even feasibly demand a title shot over Rua at that point would be Alexander Gustafsson, and Alex is about to tie himself up with Luke Rockhold against all sense of reason.
Shogun’s taken a lot of damage in his 35-fight career, and it shows. He’s slower and more sluggish than he used to be, the ‘Brazilian Zombie’ if you will. Sure, he can always turn back the clock every half dozen fights and look like the Shogun of old, but that’s less and less likely every degree the world turns.
At best, he out-wrestles Volkan in
Chile (now Hamburg) and gets done in by Daniel Cormier or Gustaffson down the road.
I don’t think a loss to Volkan Oezdemir here is necessarily the end of the line for Shogun Rua – but it definitely should be from a title aspirations standpoint, and that’s really what this whole shebang is all about.