Last night's Strikeforce: Fedor vs. Silva event brought to the surface a lot of debate about when fighters should retire, after Andrei Arlovski and Fedor Emelianenko both suffered brutal losses on the night's main card. This is not the only time this has been in the news in MMA lately, as Chuck Liddell has recently retired following a string of KO losses and Randy Couture has been pondering retirement himself, while Kazushi Sakuraba continues to take beatings in Japan.
The key question is: how much is too much? Knockouts and heavy damage are a part of MMA, obviously, and the sport would not be the same without them. However, many people fail to realize that if you get knocked out, you do not simply wake up, rest for a few weeks, and totally recover. The brain is a complex organ, and concussions, which almost certainly occur if a fighter loses by KO or TKO, especially multiple concussions within a short period of time, often cause long term problems that can affect a person for the rest of their life. These can include dementia, slurred speech, and a variety of mental illnesses.
With three his four consecutive losses coming by way of KO or TKO, is it time for Andrei Arlovski to hang up the gloves? I say yes. There is truth behind the statement "every knockout weakens the chin" and we have seen this with "the Pitbull." He just does not seem to be able to take the kind of punishment a fighter needs to be able to take to thrive. We also saw this with Chuck Liddell, the invincible striker who at one time could walk through any of his opponents' strikes, but following several KO losses just did not seem to be able to take it anymore. I feel the same is occuring with Arlovski, and he should call it a career and move on to a new chapter in his life.
Fedor is a much different case, as he has never suffered a knockout loss in his entire career. However, as amazing as Fedor's career has been, he has never been a fighter who avoided damage. He has taken many punches throughout his career, and those punches take their toll. This same thing is often seen with boxers. Many have never been KOd, but the same problems associated with many vicious losses show up later in life. This is most likely due to many minor concussions sustained in their many wars inside the ring. I think that Fedor has sustained a lot of damage, but I am not sure if he really should call it quits. I still believe it is up to him, whereas I feel Arlovski almost needs to call it a career.
While these are the two examples everyone will be talking about right now, there are many other fighters who should probably also be thinking about retirement. Jens Pulver, though he broke his long losing streak recently, has lost many fights over the last few years, and has taken a lot of punishment in doing so. Reports have suggested that he is only still fighting for the money, and if this is the case, it is sad, but also very understandable. Tim Sylvia has been on the rough end of a few KOs in the last two years, but I feel that his main problem lies in his desire, as there is no way he should be showing up over 300 pounds for his fights. I believe he either needs to rediscover this desire or move on.
The most tragic case, in my opinion, where a fighter just keeps on fighting long after he should have stopped, is Kazushi Sakuraba. Do not get me wrong here, I, like most MMA fans, love watching him fight. He is certainly one of the all-time greats, maybe Japan's greatest fighter ever. However, I fear for his safety every time he fights these days. His record has taken a dramatic dip over the past five years, and either win or lose, he seems to take a lot of punishment. It also seems to be back and forth on whether or not he will retire. However, he may face severe medical difficulties down the road if he does not call it quits soon. I hope, for his well-being, that we have seen the last of Sakuraba, the fighter.
So with all of these reasons for fighters to stop fighting, what prevents them from actually ending their career? There are many reasons, whether it is need of money, looking to prove something, desire for glory, or anything else. However, as hard as it may be to call it a career, sometimes, too much is TOO much.
great read.. something people tend to ignore as we all want to see our favorite fighters fight. we all hold our favorite fighters up on a pedestal and retirement seems to bring them back down to earth. but that should not be...