Opinion: Retirement and Un-Retirement
By Jesse Heitz
Over the last few days, the MMA world saw one of its familiar faces in UFC Heavyweight Challenger, Shane Carwin, bid adieu to active competition. Meanwhile, former long-time UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Tito “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy” Ortiz, threatened to come out of retirement to stop current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Jon “Bones” Jones, from matching and subsequently surpassing his mark of consecutive light heavyweight title defenses.
On Tuesday night Shane Carwin, tweeted the following,
“Officially retired 2day:-) thank you to my family, friends and fans! #dreambig GOD BLESS!!!”
Carwin’s retirement was certainly unexpected, although it probably shouldn’t have been. For any fighter that’s not named Randy Couture, we tend to start counting down how many fights remain in their worn-out bodies when they enter into their late thirties. In the case of Carwin, he’s 38 years-old, hasn’t fought since 2011, and has had major surgery on his neck, back, and knee, all within the last three years.
As a high-mileage heavyweight, and given his past history of injury, I think he made the right call by retiring. I can certainly understand the warrior spirit and the overwhelming desire to compete, but at the end of the day, had he been able to return to active competition there was little chance that he’d ever find himself in a position to challenge for the title again. Indeed, as we’ve seen time and time again, anything is possible inside the cage, but realistically, he’s had considerable trouble with younger and faster fighters like Junior Dos Santos, and would almost certainly face the same challenges in current UFC Heavyweight Champion, Cain Velasquez.
On some level it’s unfortunate that Carwin wasn’t able to make the most of his career. He was a breakout success in the UFC, demolishing virtually everyone within the opening frame of his bouts. He was never able to, through no fault of his own, live up to the explosive hype that surrounded him, but I’ll always remember him as the man who nearly killed Frank Mir thanks to horrendous officiating from referee Dan Miragliotta, as well as the man who despite losing the fight, destroyed the hype surrounding Brock Lesnar.
The other bit of retirement news that I want to cover comes from Tito Ortiz, who following Jon Jones’ resounding stoppage over Chael Sonnen at UFC 159, made the following statement via Twitter,
I’m as big of a fan of legends coming out of nowhere to defy the odds and take down the young lions of the sport, but even I can’t get behind Tito on this one. Granted, I think that this was just some light-hearted banter, particularly given that Tito is preparing for some rather invasive knee surgery. If we did entertain the notion that the former champion was serious, all I can say is God help him. Although, Tito may put up more of a fight than Chael Sonnen did, and his win over Ryan Bader in 2011 even makes him a more relevant title challenger, so there’s that.
Tags: Shane Carwin, Tito Ortiz, Chael Sonnen, UFC 159, Ryan Bader, Jon Jones, Cain Velasquez, Junior Dos Stantos, Frank Mir, Dan Miragliotta, Brock Lesnar, Randy Couture.