UFC Vet Din Thomas Reflects on 15 Plus Year Career, TUF 4 One of Several Highlights
By Kelsey Mowatt
As mixed-martial-arts continues to embed itself into mainstream culture, and even some fans might be unable to remember a time without it, more and more of the sport’s veterans are hanging up the gloves. One of the latest is Din Thomas, who recently announced he was retiring from fighting at the age of 37. The noted pugilist and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt made his pro debut in 1998. To put that into perspective, when “Dinyero” fought for the first time, the UFC had only promoted around 20 events in total.
So, what does Thomas believe were some of the highlights of his 15 plus year career?
“At one time, I wanted to erase the BJ Penn moment, and for years I wanted to erase that moment, it was one of those things that stands out in my career…,” Thomas relayed recently on Full Contact Fighter Radio, while referring to his 2001 loss to Penn. “It’s funny, people think it happened like yesterday, but it’s something that happened a long time ago…that’s something I wouldn’t change. I lost, and he knocked me out, but it’s something that helped me grow and develop into a better fighter.”
“I think my fight against Steve Berger, any old school guys that have seen that fight, would probably consider that as one of my greatest performances,” added Thomas, who leaves MMA having gone 26-9 as a professional. “To me, it was obviously one of my better performances, it was almost a perfect performance on my part.”
Thomas defeated Berger at an Absolute Fighting Championship card in 2003, not long after he scored a split decision win over Matt Serra at UFC 41. The American Top Team fighter didn’t return to the Octagon until he competed on the fourth season of “The Ultimate Fighter” in 2006, which introduced Thomas and several other veteran fighters to a new generation of MMA fans.
“Just being on “The Ultimate Fighter” too man was a great experience,” Thomas noted about TUF 4, which featured other vets like Scott Smith, Patrick Cote, Jorge Rivera, and Serra, among several others. “That whole six week process was a highlight for me. Just going through that; getting to meet the guys that I got to meet. I built some relationships, like with Matt Serra, that I don’t have with other people. Relationships, like with Chris Lytle, those things man, you can’t put a price tag on that. Those are things I’ll never forget.”
“It was a great format to get people to really know the fighters,” added Thomas, while discussing TUF 4, which seems to be fondly remembered by longtime MMA fans. “With the format, with editing and stuff they can kind of paint a picture in the way that they want to, but at the end of the day, it’s still a great format for people to get to know the fighters…we weren’t out there to trying to prove ourselves, or make a name for ourselves, we were really, serious fighters trying to get back into the game, back into the mix.”
When Thomas announced that his fighting days were over earlier this month, he cited the recent losses of Anderson Silva and Josh Barnett at UFC 168 as a factor.
“That made my decision a lot more comfortable, and it made me face it a lot easier…,” said Thomas, who has started a MMA scouting company with fellow vet Roli Delgado. “When I made the decision to retire, I still felt like there was times where I could say, you know what? I can always make a comeback; that’s what these guys always do. They retire, and then when they get a decent enough of a fight they make a comeback.”
“After watching what happened to those guys, it just made me realize that you know, our time has past. We can’t keep reliving it, we can’t keep looking back and saying what we should have did or what we could have did…we had our days and our moments, and we lived that lifestyle and had all the glory, but now it’s time for the young, up-and-coming guys to do their thing.”