UFC 262 results are the books and the event highlighted the urgent need for a retirement facility/plan for old, washed-out former fighters who can no longer win.
Walking away from a once glittering career is not an easy undertaking. Of all professional athletes, prizefighters find the decision particularly difficult. There are no teammates to whisper in their ear, the money can be lucrative, and the desire to compete cannot be quenched. The walls of their gym are covered in posters from their glory days. But a fighter past their prime just can’t win anymore, no matter how hard they try. Some fighters will take a pay cut, change promotions, and face other washed-up has-beens all to avoid hanging up the gloves.
Exhibit A – Frank Mir recently fought a boxing match.
Tony Ferguson has long been a fan favourite. He has proven to be a little crazy, unorthodox, unhinged perhaps, but tough as teak and loved for his wild and carefree fighting style. Ferguson strung together 12 wins in a legendary unbeaten streak. The Lightweight title eluded him after 5 fights versus Khabib Nurmagomedov were abandoned due to injuries and/or weight-cutting issues in both camps. And in the blink of an eye, Ferguson is now finished, destined for the scrapheap. He lost a fraction of his skill set and is now an easy beat, a bum, another coulda been a contender. He was the highest paid fighter at UFC 262, but his days of commanding huge sums to lose 3 straight rounds must now be over.
Donald Cerrone is the same. Another fearless warrior who left it all in the ring, now gone, a shadow of his former self. The never-quit mentality required to carve out a career as a prizefighter is now working against Cowboy, and he might need to be forcibly removed from the UFC roster for the sake of his wellbeing. Now winless in his last 6 outings, father time has officially overtaken him.
Add Jacare Souza to the list, the once dangerous Brazilian submission specialist felled by a vicious armbar in UFC 262. It only takes a slight loss of reflex reaction time, a little muscle slowness to creep in and once topliners are reduced to also-rans. Chris Weidman is another, the former Middleweight champ now merely a has-been with leaky defence and cardio issues. Luke Rockhold is another former Middleweight belt holder who can no longer take a punch. Chuck Liddell can barely rest his head on a pillow without fear of being knocked unconscious. The damage done to fighters in the normal course of their career means every combatant should have a pre-planned exit strategy. 3 consecutive losses should herald the end of the combat and the next phase of their lives. CTE is real, and getting punched in the head unnecessarily is a stupid idea.
So what will become of the endless list of weary and beaten fighters? Perhaps the UFC can open a retirement facility in sunny Florida, and fans and youngsters can be taught the pitfalls of the game by the residents who have lived the life. The retirees can also conduct inspirational speaking events, and help steer restless juveniles away from a life of crime. There will be a gym and sauna, and food will be provided so the former athletes don’t get fat, and they can enjoy sunsets and watch old footage of their golden years. Medical expenses will be covered by UFC management, and much goodwill result.
The UFC 262 main event was a brief but riveting affair. Charles Oliveira knocked out Michael Chandler to claim the vacant Lightweight title. The Brazilian was almost finished in the first round, but came out strong in the second and took apart Chandler with a well-timed blitz. The result sets up a future blockbuster against either Conor McGregor or Dustin Poirier, who will fight their trilogy bout later in the year. Oliveira and his blazing white teeth are a tough match for anyone, and his first fight as a champion will sell like a meme coin following a random mention from Elon Musk.
But Dana White, let’s get the Florida facility off the ground. The heroes of yesterday deserve it.
Jackson Byrne – Combat Sports Editor