A running list of notable 2017 MMA retirements

Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, News, UFC

MMA is a constantly evolving sport with a revolving door of athletes entering and exiting. Currently, fighters from the era that helped make the sport so popular are beginning to trickle away from competition and hang up their gloves in order to move on to the next chapter in life.

If there’s one thing that’s well known about combat sports retirements, though, it’s that they often don’t last long. The urge to compete, and perhaps more importantly get a payday, will continue to drive fighters back even well beyond their expiration dates.

2017 has seen an uptick in notable fighters announcing they’re done with the sport, and The Blue Corner has kept a running list of those who have decided in favor in retirement.

* * * *

Mirko Filipovic (Jan. 3)

Although this song and dance with 42-year-old heavyweight legend “Cro Cop” has happened several times before, the PRIDE and UFC veteran claimed “this is definitely the end” following his surprising run through the Rizin FF open-weight tournament in December.

Tim Kennedy (Jan. 17)

Former Strikeforce middleweight title challenger and decorated military man Kennedy flirted with the idea of retirement for quite some time. He made it official following a TKO loss to Kelvin Gastelum at UFC 206.

Jocelyn Jones-Lybarger (Jan. 19)

After a disappointing 0-3 run during her UFC career, women’s strawweight fighter Jones-Lybarger opted to step away from competition after just 10 pro fights.

Tito Ortiz (Jan. 21)

Ortiz, who is one of the most notable fighters and personalities in MMA history, made it known well ahead of time that his Bellator 170 fight with Chael Sonnen would be the last of his career. He won, and thus far the former UFC light heavyweight champion has stuck to his guns.

Aisling Daly (Jan. 30)

Although Irish MMA is all about Conor McGregor, the credit for raising the profile for the women’s side of the sport in the country goes largely to Daly, who was forced to retire against her own will after a brain scan revealed an abnormality.

Ricardo Abreu (Feb. 3)

Two U.S. Anti-Doping Violations (USADA) within the span of a handful of months caused Abreu to announce his retirement. His two-year suspension froze when he mad the announcement, so if he ever wants to come back, there’s a long waiting period ahead.

Cody Bollinger (Feb. 12)

Former WSOF title challenger Bollinger lost three of his final five fights before he announced his retirement, citing the desire to spend more time with his family. He left the door open for a return “far, far down the road.”

James Moontasri (Feb. 13)

After going 2-4 during his UFC career, Moontasri, who bounced between the lightweight and featherweight divisions, said he was ready for something different in life following a loss to Alex Morono at UFC on FOX 22 in December.

Brock Lesnar (Feb. 14)

Former UFC heavyweight champion Lesnar has retired before, but after flunking multiple drug tests around his comeback fight with Mark Hunt at UFC 200, it’s possible this one could actually stick. Lesnar has been rumored for another comeback, but he must first enter the USADA testing pool and serve the final six months of his suspension.

Phillipe Nover (Feb. 15)

After a career which included two UFC stints and a run to the finals of “The Ultimate Fighter 8” where he received comparisons to Anderson Silva from UFC President Dana White, Nover decided his time in the sport was done following a loss at UFC 211.

Cody Pfister (March 3)

Not many fighters have the strength to go out on a win, but that’s exactly what Pfister did when the 27-year-old surprisingly announced his retirement after wining his Bellator debut at Bellator 174.

Marloes Coenen (March 3)

Women’s MMA pioneer Coenen fell short in her last shot at glory when she lost to Julia Budd in the inaugural Bellator women’s featherweight title fight at Bellator 174. She announced her retirement in the cage immediately afterward, but has made a smooth transition out of the sport by picking up some broadcasting reps for Bellator and Spike.

Nam Phan (March 11)

Prone to putting on exciting fights throughout his more than 15-year career, Phan lost seven of his final 10 bouts before a 21-second loss under the ACB banner prompted him to retire.

Ian Entwistle (March 18)

Much of the damage sustained by fighters comes inside competition, but outside of it weight cutting can be just as harmful. British bantamweight Entwistle unfortunately fell victim to the harsh physical tolls and retired after withdrawing from consecutive UFC fights on either weigh-in or fight day.

Brad Pickett (March 18)

Although he didn’t get the storybook ending in his hometown that he desired, Pickett’s long and successful career came to an end in his native London when he lost to Marlon Vera at UFC Fight Night 107. “One Punch” went out as a trailblazer for the sport in his country and as one of only two men to defeat current pound-for-pound king Demetrious Johnson.

Patrick Cote (April 8)

Former UFC middleweight title challenger and one of the top Canadian fighters in history, Cote, decided 34 career fights (with 21 under the UFC banner), was enough for him. He retired after a UFC 210 loss to Thiago Alves, but still keeps close to the octagon as the promotion’s French-language commentator.

Anthony Johnson (April 8)

One of the most surprising retirements of the year so far went to knockout specialist Johnson, who suddenly decided he didn’t want to fight any more following a submission loss to Daniel Cormier in a light heavyweight title fight at UFC 210. “Rumble” cited his desire to explore other business opportunity, including a venture into the marijuana industry.

Miguel Torres (April 19)

Once considered one of the top pound-for-pound fighters on the planet, former WEC bantamweight champion Torres waved the white flag on his more than 17-year fighting career when with an emotional retirement announcement.

Gilbert Smith (June 14)

Season 25 of “The Ultimate Fighter” was a shot at redemption for a group of fighters whose UFC careers did not go as planned. Smith was on the cast, but after being bounced from the tournament in the quarterfinal round, admitted his passion for the sport had fizzled.

Neil Seery (July 16)

Irish flyweight Seery made his plans to retire from the sport known more than a year before it actually happened. His retirement fight was delayed twice over due to last withdrawals by his opponents, but finally it happened at UFC Fight Night 113. Unfortunately, the result didn’t go his way.

For more on upcoming MMA schedule, check out the MMA Rumors section of the site.

The Blue Corner is MMAjunkie‘s official blog and is edited by Mike Bohn.

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Filed under: Bellator, Blue Corner, News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

As an Irishman with a new UFC deal, Joseph Duffy is an endangered species

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As is befitting of the man, news that Irish lightweight Joseph Duffy had signed a new seven-fight UFC deal following a brief spell as a free agent was accompanied by minimal fanfare.

There was no bombast, nor were multiple members of the 155-pound division subjected to impromptu challenges on Twitter, in some transparent attempt to hog a little more of the spotlight while his name was in circulation.

That’s just not Duffy’s way, and it never will be. But, if it were, the UFC may not have allowed the Donegal native to fight out his old contract with a routine win over Reza Madadi at UFC Fight Night 107 in March, and then entertain offers from other promotions before finally tabling the sort of deal he felt deserving of.

Timing also played a significant role in the relatively subdued response to the UFC retaining the services of one of Europe’s most potent combatants.

In the hours after Pete Carroll of MMAFighting.com broke the story of Duffy (19-2 MMA, 4-1 UFC) committing his longterm future to the world’s biggest promotion, another Irishman, Conor McGregor, took to the stage of Barclays Center in Brooklyn to trade insults with Floyd Mayweather. There’s just no competing with that.

Had Duffy not signed on the dotted line, McGregor would have been left as the sole Irish-born fighter established on the UFC roster.

Just two years ago, when Duffy announced himself to the wider MMA audience with a first-round TKO of Jake Lindsey on his promotional debut at UFC 185, that scenario would have been unthinkable.

Irish fighters were ubiquitous among the ranks of the UFC as the first generation from the island bounded in behind McGregor. But now, after a slew of retirements and pink slips, they’re an endangered species.

On reflection, Duffy is somewhat taken aback by the brevity of the Celtic culling, but he’s confident the status quo will be temporary. In typically modest fashion, he also doubted whether his absence would have been keenly felt.

“To be honest, it was strange the way it happened, and it all seemed to happen very quick,” Duffy told MMAjunkie. “You had (Cathal Pendred, Paddy Holohan and Aisling Daly) retiring, and it was just so quick how it all thinned out.

“I’m not sure me leaving would have been too much of a loss because there’s always going to be a lot of talent coming through in Ireland. We love our combat sports, so I’m sure the future is going to be bright for the country.”

Veteran flyweight and Irish MMA icon Neil Seery hung up his gloves following a submission loss to Alexandre Pantoja just under a fortnight ago at UFC Fight Night 113, leaving McGregor as the lone survivor from that famous night at Dublin’s 3Arena in 2014 when Ireland was briefly the epicenter of the MMA universe.

Of course, Russian-born featherweight Artem Lobov, who grew up in Ireland, proudly flies the flag of both countries when he competes, while SBG Ireland team member Gunnar Nelson is a beloved adopted son of the Emerald Isle.

Another SBG man, Charlie Ward, has fought and lost twice under the UFC’s banner, but his UFC stint only materialized due to his connection with McGregor.

Given he has not lived in Ireland since childhood, Duffy was always somewhat of an outlier as an Irish fighting entity, but his connection to home has never waned. In fact, he draws strength from it daily.

“From day one, right back to my Cage Warriors days,” Duffy said, “that’s what my inspiration and drive was. I remember hearing about the bars being full at home with people who were watching the Cage Warriors live streams. That spurred me on even more.

“Every training camp, I remember the thoughts of people sitting in the bar watching the fight and everyone who traveled over, and that’s always been one of my inspirations. And that’s not to even mention all the fans from Wales and England who have followed me. It all means a lot to me.”

The son of a fisherman, Duffy was born close to the fishing village of Burtonport on the untamed but beautiful northwest coast of Ireland.

When the fishing industry began to dry up there, his father followed his uncle to work as tunneller in Wales. When Duffy was nine months old, the entire family made the move.

The Duffys returned to Ireland for a time when Joseph was small child, before returning to Wales, while family vacations to Donegal were frequent.

As such, Duffy was, in some people’s eyes, neither quite Irish or Welsh. But he knew exactly who he was.

“Since I was a kid, I was never one to follow the click or the bubble,” Duffy said.” Living in Wales and being Irish, I didn’t fit in there. Then coming home after living in Wales, there were people who wouldn’t consider me Irish.

“But if you let that all bother you, you’ll get nothing done. I was always proud of being Irish, right the way through school, and all my friends knew it very well. I’ve still got all my friends from Donegal, the ones I grew up with.”

In total, beginning with Tom Egan at UFC 93, and concluding with Ward’s loss at the hands of Galore Bofando, also at UFC Fight 133 in Glasgow, a total of 10 Irish-born fighters have fought in the UFC.

And every one of them has been supported with a manic fervor by their compatriots, which is a hallmark of the Irish sports fan; they rarely do half measures. In that respect, Duffy is proud to be native athlete they can rally around.

“No matter what sport it is, the Irish fans have always proved themselves and their support is always incredible,” he said. “The Irish fans will always get behind the likes of Gunnar Nelson and Artem Lobov, so it’s almost like there are more of us.

“You see it when Conor fights, with the amount of them that turn up. It would have been a bit of shame for the Irish fans to have nobody to get behind if Conor did decide to knock it on the head.”

Although McGregor has said he will return to MMA to defend his UFC lightweight title in December, his projected windfall for the boxing match with Mayweather next month is such that might he think otherwise.

Should that be the case, Duffy will be, for the time being at least, the last Irishman standing in the UFC, while over in Bellator, James Gallaghershould continue to make waves.

Training at the Tristar gym under Firas Zahabi and Eric O’Keefe, Duffy has been a resident of Montreal for more than two years. And while his skills are being honed in Canada, it’s Ireland where Duffy finds the fuel to compete.

“Before a camp, I try to get home,” Duffy said. “Because, when I go home and speak to people, and hear how much it means to them, it reminds me of that. That’s the difficult part, because when you’re away from it, sometimes you can forget.

“Some of the things people say to me is such a motivation, and I remember those words all through camp. If you’re having a bad session or things aren’t going your way, it those words you think of to push you on. And they were some of the people who really motivated me to do well.”

After defeating Ivan Gorge via first-round submission in his sophomore promotional appearance at UFC Fight Night 72 in Glasgow, Duffy took a trip back to Donegal to catch up with friends and family. What awaited him was a gesture he’ll never forget.

“I remember going home just after the Glasgow fight, and my cousins surprised me up the town, and lot of people from the town came out to welcome me home,” he said. “Then my best friend organized something for me after a festival that was going on, so home has always meant a great deal to me.”

At 29 and with his professional future secure, Duffy feels a sense of urgency about getting back in the cage and resuming his ascent through arguably the most exacting division in the sport.

And, just on the off-chance a reminder to do was required, he’s had plenty of prompting from the green hoards.

“The Irish fans on social media have been nagging me to get more active, and I haven’t been able to because I’ve been working on my game, but now I want to start putting on shows for those guys,” Duffy said.

For more on the UFC’s upcoming schedule, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie