15 MMA Fighters Who Needed To Retire Early – With Videos

Being a fighter is not an easy thing. Not just physically but also mentally. Many fighters truly love to fight, and you can say they are addicted to it. Many now-famous fighters had nothing in life except martial arts, and that’s the only thing they knew how to do. That’s why it can be complicated for many athletes to stop fighting.

Some are just addicted; some do not have anything else they can do in life, and some would not even stop after a severe injury or a chance of getting one. There is just something inside of them that is making them compete and just reigniting the fire.

You will find out that many of the fighters that helped popularize the sport of MMA are slowly fading. They are just getting too old for it, and some have even sustained severe injuries preventing them from competing ever again.

Conor McGregor

Conor is undoubtedly the most iconic name that you will hear in this sport. He had many successful fights, but since he started making longer breaks between them, he started losing the feeling for it. His downfall began when he fought against Khabib and lost via rear naked choke. 

He was on a winning streak before that fight, and he should’ve retired then so that his fans would remember him as a great MMA fighter. Instead, he lost to Khabib even after bragging about his skills. His next fight was against Cowboy Cerone, where Conor won. 

McGregor then went on to fight against Justin Poirier and lost by TKO. He demanded a rematch where he lost again by stoppage. Conor broke his foot, and the fight ended there. There are rumors that Conor will return to the fighting scene, but after so much time off fighting, that wouldn’t be such a good idea. 

Conor is slowly gaining a bad reputation as a fighter, and that is because he should’ve retired when he was on a winning streak.

Wanderlei Silva

Wanderlei Silva was one of the scariest fighters to go up against back in the day. He was fast and violent, and his fights were out of mayhem. His punches were powerful, and many people had second thoughts when fighting him. He was in his prime when he fought for PRIDE FC.  

He started building his legacy in 1999 when he began fighting for the Japanese promotion of PRIDE FC. He would become the biggest star there and one of the most famous MMA athletes of all time. He had an impressive 18-fight win streak from 2000 to 2004. 

One of his most used martial arts was Muay Thai. He had incredible striking and a clinch you cannot get out of. And don’t forget about his fantastic stamina as well. He was not an easy person to tire out. 

He started fighting for the UFC in 2007, and you could see the change. He wasn’t the vicious fighter that he was before that. His fans thought he retired in 2013 after a match against Brian Stann. He should’ve retired then, but he didn’t.  

Instead, he decided to join the Bellator Championship. He fought against some of his old opponents. However, that wasn’t the Silva all the people were used to. He was slow and out of shape, and he wasn’t as nearly as aggressive as before. 

His last fight happened for the Bellator 206 event, where he fought against Quinton “Rampage” Jackson. Silva lost that fight via TKO and soon retired. That happened in 2018.

Mark Coleman

Mark Coleman is one of the first contenders for MMA. He was a multiple wrestling champion, and he showed the importance of wrestling in MMA. Coleman won many fights because of that too. He competed for the UFC and PRIDE FC and won a championship title in both organizations.

Coleman was an aggressive fighter who implemented ground and pound in many fights. He popularized ground and pound after all the wrestlers had difficulty beating an opponent trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. That was a big game changer for this sport. 

He was a fantastic fighter that was fun to watch, but many of his fans thought he should’ve retired in 2000 after winning the PRIDE FC tournament. However, he didn’t. Coleman went on to fight against some of the other excellent fighters like Mirko Cro Cop and Fedor Emelianenko. 

He had some terrible TKO losses at the end of his career. 

Rashad Evans

Rashad Evans was a former UFC light heavyweight champion. He was a fighter that was really good in all aspects of fighting. Evans did not have a powerful punch, but he was fast and knew how to get a good combo. That made him really fun to watch.  

His last win was back in 2013, and it was against Chael Sonnen. Rashad won that fight via TKO. After that, he went on to have a losing streak and just chased that last victory before he retired. However, Rashad was unsuccessful and retired in 2018 after a loss to Anthony Smith. 

Everyone wanted to see him win for the last time, but that simply did not happen, so he ended his career badly. However, he did make a return in 2022. Many people may see this as a wrong move since he is getting older.  

However, we may finally see a good ending for this fighter. In this fight, Rashad competed against Gabriel Checco in the Eagle FC 44. Rashad did win that fight by unanimous decision. The fans that wanted to see him win for the last time finally got what they wanted.  

Nick Diaz

Nick, alongside his brother Nate, is among the most famous names in the UFC. Nick has been around more than Nate and has been fighting since 2001. He joined the UFC in 2003 and has been fighting for them. He did also fight for Strikeforce promotion as well as some other ones. 

Diaz is an exciting fighter to watch. Even though he does not have knockout power, he is a clever fighter. Nick mostly does standup, but he can also deliver a good ground and pound. Another thing that makes these brothers top tier is their endurance.  

Nick can sustain many blows, but you will never see him run out of stamina or the will to fight. This came from their childhood when they were poor, so the only thing that they could do to get out of that situation was to fight and train as much as they could. Nick had his last victory in 2011, and he should’ve retired then. 

He is getting older and slower, and competing against some younger and hungrier fighters is getting harder. After that win, he went on a losing streak, with his last fight being in 2021 against Robbie Lawler.

Antonio Nogueira

Antonio is a UFC hall of Famer and one of the best heavyweight fighters of all time. Besides being a UFC champion, he was also a PRIDE FC champion. Antonio was a fantastic fighter. His stand-up was good, but he is most famous for his grappling skills. 

He did, however, suffer many injuries. In general, heavyweight contenders suffer more injuries because the strikes of heavyweight fighters are usually more vital. He also fought against some big guys like Bob Sapp, but he still managed to be victorious. He was also a very durable fighter, and he wasn’t a person that would tap easily. 

He was a beast in the early days of his MMA career, but he began to fade after some time. After a loss to Frank Mir, Antonio started getting worse. Many of his fans thought that he was way better than Mir. He ended his career with a 3-loss streak, but he will always be remembered as a great fighter.

BJ Penn

BJ was a very talented fighter. Before signing for the UFC, he was competing in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He won the World BJJ championship in 2000, and after that, he started competing in MMA. BJ Penn is a former lightweight as well as welterweight UFC champion. He also had three successful title defenses, making him one of the greatest fighters UFC had. 

Penn was a very aggressive fighter. That’s why many people enjoyed watching him. He was a fantastic fighter during his prime time. He even fought a 30lbs heavier opponent in an open weight category. BJ had a successful career until 2011, when he fought against Nick Diaz and lost via decision. 

This was just the first of many losses he would face before ending his career in 2019. Penn had seven losses before UFC let him go. He was getting older and slower, and his fights were not as interesting to watch as they were before.

Chuck Liddell

Chuck was a great fighter who, in his prime, wasn’t scared to fight anyone. He is one of the UFC pioneers and deserves much credit for popularizing MMA. Chuck started fighting back in 1998 and was one of the more aggressive fighters. Liddell was not afraid to get hit, and he had a fantastic ability to absorb a lot of punches. 

At the beginning of his career, his fights were ready and fun to watch because he was fast and powerful, and he was not an easy person to knock out. However, after defending the light heavyweight title against Tito Ortiz, he began to lose all of his fights.  

This was very painful for his fans to watch as they all remembered him as an absolute animal inside the ring. Chuck retired in 2010 after a loss from Rich Franklin. He was getting too old to fight, and it was the right decision.  

Ken Shamrock

Ken was a fighter that competed during the 90s and early 2000s. He competed for the Japanese promotion “Pancreas” before signing for the UFC in 1993. He was among the first people to fight in the UFC and helped make UFC the brand it is today. 

He had a very successful career and held a professional record of 28 wins, 17 losses, and two draws. He was also an aggressive fighter, which is the main reason why people enjoyed watching his fights. At the beginning of the 2000s, he competed for PRIDE FC and UFC and succeeded in both promotions. 

However, he started to lose some fights. He was getting older and not as strong as he used to be. His last fight for the UFC promotion happened in 2006, when he lost against Titi Ortiz. Many of his fans thought he should retire, but he went on to compete in other promotions. He went to compete for KOTC, Impact FC, and Bellator. 

His last fight happened in 2016 when he lost against Royce Gracie at Bellator 149 event.

Royce Gracie

Royce was one of the earliest competitors in the UFC. He stated competing back in 1993 for the first-ever UFC event. He was the opposite of what you would see in regular fighters at that time. Royce, alongside some other fighters, helped build UFC from the ground up.  

He was not very aggressive, but rather he would use the technique to defeat more aggressive and bigger opponents than him. He also introduced Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu into MMA and popularized it. After winning a couple of UFC events, he went on to fight in the PRIDE FC.  

Royce lost a couple of fights, and everyone expected him to retire. However, he went back to the UFC, but at the time, he was not his old self. Gracie was not in his prime anymore. He did, however, retire after a two-fight win streak. 

His last fight was back in 2016 against a legend of this sport, Ken Shamrock. Royce won that fight by TKO at the Bellator 149 event.

Josh Koscheck

Josh was a fantastic wrestler and all-around good fighter back in the day. He joined the UFC after just two MMA fights in his career. Josh fought against great names like Tyron Woodley, Mike Pierce, and Georges St. Pierre. Koscheck was a good fighter despite the lack of experience he had. 

His fights were exciting to watch. Because he was a wrestler primarily, he had a significant advantage over most of his opponents at the time. In the early days of MMA, people valued stand-up striking the most and cared little about the ground game. 

However, as we all know, you cannot be a complete fighter without it. Whether it is wrestling or BJJ, you must have some ground skills to defend yourself. And that is precisely what he had. 

The most memorable fight of his career was the knockout victory he had over Matt Hudges at the UFC 135 event. Soon after that fight, Josh started to fall off. He lost a few fights in a row, so the UFC released him back in 2015. 

However, Kosheck didn’t want to stop there, so he went on to fight for the Bellator promotion. Sadly, nothing changed as he lost his fights and slowly lost his fans. His last fight happened in 2017 when he lost against Mauricio Alonso for the Bellator 172 event.

Anderson Silva

Anderson “Spider” Silva is another big name in UFC and MMA history. He is a UFC Hall of Famer and a former UFC middleweight champion. Silva started competing in 1997 but joined the UFC in 2006 for the UFC Fight Night 5. He fought against Chris Leben and won by KO. 

Silva did not have many losses in his career. He was a brilliant fighter and used his long arms and legs to keep his distance from his opponent. Spider was a clever striker, and his BJJ skills were on point. We could say he was a well-rounded fighter.  

That was up until 2013, when he fought against Chris Weidman. During the fight, Anderson Silva broke his shin by kicking the leg of Weidman. It was a brutal scene, and many of his fans still remember that fight.  

People thought he would retire then, but that was not the case. He returned in 2016 to fight Michael Bisping and lost. He had a few more fights, but that was not the Silva everyone was used to. He was slow and very careful when kicking because he feared breaking his leg again.  

His last fight happened in 2020 for the UFC Fight Night 181, where he lost to Uriah Hall.

Brock Lesnar

Brock is not something you would expect to see when it comes to the fighting stage. This Heavyweight fighter became famous in the WWE Championship and decided to try himself out in the octagon. 

His first fight for the UFC happened in 2008 when he fought against Frank Mir and lost. After that fight, he went on to have a 4-fight win streak. Brock was very entertaining to watch simply because of his build. He trained like a bodybuilder and had muscle mass like one, but he also competed in wrestling and MMA. 

Everyone wanted to see a jacked man get into the cage and fight. And many of his opponents were scared of him because of his appearance. However, Brock was not a good fighter. Even though his strikes were string, he was very slow and didn’t have good technique. 

Many fans expected him to retire in 2010 after a loss from Cain Velasquez, but he didn’t stop there. He fought against Alistar Overeem in 2011 and even had a winn in 2016 when he was fighting Mark Hunt, but that decision was later overturned to a no-contest when Lesnar failed a USADA drug test. He eventually retired from MMA.

Nick Lentz

Nick started competing back in 2005 and has competed for various organizations before joining the UFC in 2009. He held a professional record of 30 wins, 12 losses, and two draws. Diaz was not a crowd-pleasing fighter. However, he was a good fighter and a fast one too. He never apologized for his bad performances, though.  

Nick was a purple belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He would incorporate those skills into his fight, making him a well-rounded fighter. By the end of his career, he started having problems with his vision, and everyone knew that.  

Many people thought that he would stop fighting because of that. He didn’t, however. Nick wanted to see how far he could get even with that problem, but it was not too far. He started losing his fights and ended up retiring on a three fight-losing streak.

Stefan Struve

Stefan is a very famous UFC heavyweight fighter. He is most famous for his height and reaches. Stefan began competing back in 2005. He competed for various promotions until 2009, when he signed for the UFC. Stefan did lose that first fight which was against Junior dos Santos.  

Stefan was a very successful fighter; his freakishly long reach helped him. His opponents could not get close to him, so they usually had a hard matchup. Struve was slow, however, and that was his flaw. He was also not too good when it came to the ground game. 

He was most dominant in stand-up. Struve had some problems with his inner ear, and he said that it was causing him trouble and that he could not fight well enough cause of it. Many people thought that he was going to retire, but he kept on fighting a bit more.  

His last fight happened in 2020, and it was against Tai Tuivasa. Stefan lost that fight via KO and soon after that announced his retirement.  


Some fighters don’t want to let go of their past fame and would let their ego run their life. Many fighters ruined their career because of this. MMA, as well as many competitive sports, is a fast-changing game. You have many younger athletes replacing old stars, and that is a normal thing that happens. 

Many old fighters are still competing because they are still chasing their dreams and chasing that big championship win. Many fighters are also chasing that payday, so they just overlook any problems they may have. 

Many fighters would sustain severe damage before realizing that they should simply retire from this sport. The most common one is brain damage because you get a lot of blows to your head. Age also plays a significant role because as you get older, you also get slower and weaker, and you cannot compete with a younger and stronger fighter.

Gregori Povolotski

I have been practicing martial arts since 2007. For as long as I can remember, I have always had a huge passion for combat sports, especially Muay Thai and boxing. Helping people on their martial arts journey is what drives me to keep training and learn new things. Read More About Me

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