2018 has seen numerous retirements from MMA, as amongst others, former UFC champions Michael Bisping, Rashad Evans and Johny Hendricks all hung up their gloves.
2019 is likely to see more of the same, as ageing fighters – some of whom date their UFC careers back over a decade – decide enough is enough.
So who will decide to hang it up for good? Nobody can really be sure, as it’s a well-known fact in MMA that some fighters tend to keep going for way too long while others – like Anthony Johnson – suddenly decide to retire and surprise everyone.
The following 5 fighters though have all showed signs that the end is nigh, or at least it ought to be. Here are 5 UFC fighters who should consider retirement in 2019.
#1 Diego Sanchez
The Middleweight winner of the inaugural season of The Ultimate Fighter way back in 2005, Diego Sanchez has been a staple of the Octagon for well over a decade now.
‘The Nightmare’ has fought in four different weight classes, ranging from 185lbs all the way down to 145lbs, and he’s stepped into the Octagon on a crazy 28 occasions for some truly memorable UFC classics. He’s even scheduled for a fight in March at UFC 235 against Mickey Gall.
So why should Diego hang it up? Well, it all comes down to durability with this one. Sanchez was once renowned for having one of the toughest chins in all of MMA; fights against BJ Penn, Jake Ellenberger, Martin Kampmann and Gilbert Melendez saw him take insane punishment and never stop coming forward with a snarl on his face.
It seemed impossible to hurt the guy – something backed up by the fact that by 2016, he’d only ever been stopped once – due to a cut in his fight with Penn.
That’s not the case anymore, however. Diego was stopped by Joe Lauzon via TKO in July 2016 and since then he’s been finished by both Al Iaquinta and Matt Brown, both in devastating fashion.
His once-granite chin is well and truly cracked now, and while he seems fine in interviews, you have to question how much damage his brain has taken over the years.
As it stands, Diego’s grappling skill and stamina still look as good as they’ve ever done, and that might be enough to take him past Gall. But he can’t avoid fighting strikers forever and there’s simply no need for him to take any more damage.
He’s a true UFC legend who has some of the best fights of all time under his belt, but it’s time for him to stop in 2019 for his own health.