Over the past several weeks, the MMA world has watched as three former UFC champions have all hung up the gloves.
First it was Michael Bisping. Rashad Evans followed him with Johny Hendricks the most recent.
Now, I am not a “hardcore” MMA fan in terms of dating back to the Tito Ortiz/Chuck Liddell/Ken Shamrock days of the sport.
Instead, I signed up when I started following the likes of Bisping, Evans and Hendricks take to the Octagon and compete.
That was especially true for Evans, as his match with Forrest Griffin was one of the first big UFC events I remember ordering on pay-per-view.
The UFC did a perfect job of building the fight, as former Ultimate Fighter winners took to the Octagon for the light heavyweight title at UFC 92. On that December night in 2008, “Suga” finished off Griffin, claiming his spot as one of the all-time greats.
While his career would experience one more peak, Evans hit a tough road starting in 2012. He finished just 2-7 over his last nine fights and thankfully heard the right words to step away after a June knockout loss to Anthony Smith.
Sure, on name value alone Rashad Evans was worth plenty to the UFC or Bellator or another promotion. But he realized now is the time to start a new chapter.
Same goes for both Bisping and Hendricks.
Bisping, also an ex-Ultimate Fighter winner and former middleweight champion, has landed movie and television roles to go with an almost permanent spot on the table working FOX Sports events. He is also helping with the “Contender Series.”
Hendricks, who held the welterweight title, is ready to get back into the wrestling world, as he’ll be coaching youngsters who could one day become the next “Bigg Rigg.”
All three of these fighters are likely to be inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame down the road and all three were key pieces in getting the sport to where it is today.