The UFC’s roster is an extremely fluid one, with fighters coming and going constantly. This has become even more notable recently, with veteran stars like Alistair Overeem and Tyron Woodley departing the promotion.
But with over a hundred fighters currently contracted, the UFC still has a number of longtime veterans, some former champions, who don’t have much to offer anymore.
The UFC may look to cut them in the near future as a cost-cutting measure, but while the likelihood is that they’ll continue to fight, in reality, it might be time for them to hang up their gloves.
With that in mind, here are five UFC veterans who ought to consider stepping away from the sport.
#1 Frankie Edgar (UFC record: 18-9)
Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar was once renowned as one of the most durable men in MMA.
The Answer was able to withstand tremendous shots from the likes of Gray Maynard and BJ Penn in his prime. Edgar usually recovered to pull off miraculous victories too.
However, that hasn’t been the case recently.
Edgar showed he’s still got something left in the tank in his 2020 win over Pedro Munhoz, but that win was sandwiched between two violent knockout losses at the hands of Chan Sung Jung and Cory Sandhagen.
When you consider that Edgar went over a decade without being knocked out but has now suffered three such stoppages, it’s probably fair to begin to worry about his future health.
Realistically, The Answer is a UFC legend who has absolutely nothing left to prove. He’s held UFC gold at lightweight and was a two-time title challenger at featherweight. But at 39 years old, he’s never likely to return to title contention.
And because of this, Edgar should probably consider walking away from the UFC and MMA while his health still appears to be intact.
#2 Diego Sanchez (UFC record: 21-13)
Another remarkably durable fighter in his prime, Diego Sanchez was once seen as one of the toughest men to ever pull on a pair of UFC gloves.
The Nightmare is still tough as leather, but his chin is now largely shot and the skills that made him a firm fan favorite have begun to diminish too.
Now training with the largely unheralded Joshua Fabia, Sanchez’s only win in recent years has come via disqualification in a fight he was firmly losing to Michel Pereira.
And while he hasn’t been knocked out since 2017, he no longer looks in prime physical shape to be competing at the top level in the UFC.
The first-ever winner of TUF, Sanchez certainly has nothing left to prove in the UFC. He may not have won UFC gold, but perhaps no other fighter has been involved in quite so many classic wars.
And it’s those wars that have put an insane amount of mileage onto The Nightmare, meaning that for his own good, it should be time to walk away.
#3 Donald Cowboy Cerrone (UFC record: 23-12)
Arguably one of the best fighters in UFC history to never hold a world title, Donald Cerrone instead holds a number of UFC records.
Nobody has more UFC wins than Cerrone’s 23, and he also holds the records for the most post-fight bonuses in UFC history (18) and the most finishes in UFC history (16) too.
Recently, though, Cowboy has fallen on seriously hard times.
His last win came in May 2019 over Al Iaquinta, and since then, he’s suffered four losses, including three knockouts, as well as a hard-hitting draw with Niko Price.
Cowboy was once seemingly able to recover from inhuman amounts of punishment, but now it appears that his chin is cracked.
And at the age of 38, it’s unlikely that Cerrone will be able to make the improvements required to continue to last at the top of either the lightweight or welterweight divisions.
With all things considered then, he should probably consider walking away from the UFC – particularly as the promotion may well offer him a spot as an analyst if he were to retire.
#4 Mauricio Shogun Rua (UFC record: 11-10-1)
Widely recognized as one of the greatest light heavyweights of all time, UFC fans seem to have been calling for Mauricio Rua to retire for years now.
Somehow, though, the Brazilian legend is still part of the UFC’s roster and is still fighting, despite being seemingly years past his prime now.
Shogun suffered a pretty poor 2020, despite actually going 1-1. He struggled to a win over fellow aging veteran Antonio Rogerio Nogueira – who promptly retired afterward – and was then thoroughly beaten by Paul Craig in November.
Simply put, the Brazilian has absolutely nothing left to prove inside the octagon.
Shogun held the UFC light heavyweight title and has wins over legends like Rampage Jackson, Lyoto Machida, Chuck Liddell and Forrest Griffin.
But at the age of 39, he’s suffered more than a career’s worth of damage, and that isn’t even taking into account the number of serious surgeries he’s had to go through over the years.
Basically, no UFC fan wants to see him fight anymore – for his own good – and so he ought to heed their advice and step away.
#5 Robbie Lawler (UFC record: 13-9)
Given that he was initially cut from the UFC in 2004 after failing to live up to his early potential, the fact that Robbie Lawler eventually rose to the top of the UFC is amazing in its own right.
Ruthless Robbie returned to the UFC in 2013 after a nomadic period on the smaller circuit but put together the best run of his career, eventually culminating in a run with the UFC welterweight title from 2014 to 2016.
However, after losing his title to Tyron Woodley via knockout, Lawler hasn’t really looked like the same fighter.
He did beat Donald Cerrone in 2017 but hasn’t won since, suffering defeats to Rafael dos Anjos, Ben Askren, Colby Covington and Neil Magny.
The latter two losses, in particular, were concerning, as Lawler looked gunshy and failed to really cause any harm to his opponent - something that would never have happened during his prime.
Lawler is another fighter who’s taken more than his fair share of damage and surgeries over the years. And given he finally realized his dream of holding UFC gold, he has nothing left to prove.
Therefore, it should be time for Ruthless Robbie to hang up his gloves.