Retirement is a tricky subject for athletes to approach. One minute, you’re on top of your game, a world-beater. The next, your body is failing you, or your mind and heart aren’t quite where they should be. It isn’t always an easy decision, but retirement is often a necessary one.
Anthony “Rumble” Johnson made the decision after a second loss to light heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier at UFC 210. Perhaps he made the decision well in advance, but Johnson ultimately decided to pull the trigger as quickly as the fight ended.
The 33-year-old never won the belt, but he was always a top contender. The second loss to Cormier followed three straight knockout victories that all earned a “Performance of the Night” award. Rumble was always a hard hitter and one of the most feared men to ever step foot in the Octagon. One punch was all he ever needed.
Johnson made the right move in retiring. It doesn’t seem like it due to any physical factors. Instead, it appeared his heart and mind just weren’t in the game anymore. The loss to Cormier was a flat performance, very uncharacteristic of Johnson. Their first fight showed just how aggressive Rumble could be and made this fight a tough toss-up based on how far Johnson allowed the fight to go.
Johnson, 33, is still young. If his heart isn’t into fighting, it’s best to take a step back and reassess. It isn’t necessary to take shots knowing that maybe this isn’t what he wants. Taking the physicality of getting up to train every day, cut weight and then ultimately fight can be extremely draining over a 28-fight career.
Rumble can always come back if he chooses to. He didn’t suffer a career-ending injury. It was a personal choice to say it’s over.
It’s important to take a breath with the stuff you love when it reaches a point where it is hard to put in the same passion as the first time you did whatever it is you love. If this is how Johnson feels, only time will tell if he can regain his passion and find his way back into the Octagon.
Rumble deserves all the relaxation he can get. The man is a true fighter who delivered some very entertaining fights across four divisions. It’s hard to believe the man who was a dominant light heavyweight was once actually fighting at welterweight. That is a 35-pound difference in weight classes! How he ever made the weight is a truly astonishing feat, even if you take into account the times he missed the mark on the scales.
Rumble went out on his own terms. All we can do — all we should do — is thank him for the years of some truly inspiring feats of power and strength he displayed in becoming one of the most feared men in MMA.