Anthony ‘Rumble’ Johnson’s sudden retirement at UFC 210, coming immediately after he was submitted by UFC light-heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier, was a real shocker for those outside of the fighter’s inner circle.
At 33 years old, Johnson had bounded into the fight on the back of 3 straight victories and 12 wins in his last 13 outings. He seemed very much in his prime. Though he was defeated on the night, that defeat had come against a man ranked in the upper-echelons of the sport’s pound for pound rankings and Johnson hadn’t suffered much physical damage or head trauma. Yet, here he was telling fans and the media that he was “tired of getting punched by guys and rolling around on the floor with guys.”
“Ain’t nothing fun about that,” added Johnson, whose opponents over the years have had very little fun getting punched in the face by him.
Though it was disappointing that one of MMA’s premier and prolific purveyors of jaw-dropping violence was departing the scene at a time when he still seemed more than capable, too early is always better than too late when it comes to retirement in combat sports.
On Sunday, the day after UFC Fight Night 108, Johnson expressed his belief that several fighters on the Nashville card have already drifted into that latter stage.
“Watched some of the fights last night and I’ll tell you this…Know when to hang em up,” wrote ‘Rumble’ on his Facebook account.
“If you’ve already been knocked out in about your last 5-6 fights isn’t that your body saying “I’ve had enough”?
“I get that it’s a macho, I have bigger balls than you sport but man some of these dudes are going to forget their name by the time they’re 45.
“Good luck with that…”
It doesn’t take a master of deduction to figure out who Johnson is talking about specifically. Veterans Jake Ellenberger and Diego Sanchez both met with grisly ends on Saturday – Ellenberger was starched by a sickening elbow-strike from the explosive Mike Perry and Sanchez was savagely steamrolled by the very impressive Al Iaquinta in just 98 seconds.
The loss to Perry was Ellenberger’s fourth in five outings and his third KO/TKO defeat in that spell. It was his fifth KO/TKO loss overall. Sanchez suffered his third defeat in five outings and his fifth in eight. More worryingly perhaps, is the fact that the once iron-chinned and remarkably resilient Sanchez suffered his second KO/TKO loss in three fights. Prior to the first of those, Sanchez had only suffered one such defeat and it was due to a doctor’s intervention in the fifth round of a title fight with the great BJ Penn. It seems that Sanchez’s punch resistance is beginning to wane in the wake of the many wars that have littered his crazy career.
Johnson may have a point.