They have left a mark in the history of MMA 5 former UFC champions who retired in 2022

UFC champions represent the peak of what mixed martial artists can accomplish. MMA is a brutal and unforgiving sport. While certain champions have had the privilege of retiring before either age catches up to them or the sport passes them by, this is not the reality for most fighters.

Regardless of the circumstances, every fighter must eventually retire. No one can fight forever lest they become part of cautionary tales of MMA legends who have stuck around long past their primes. Every year, fighters from all walks of life and all levels of success retire from MMA.

While a multitude of fighters have retired this year, this list compiles five former UFC champions who have retired from active competition. Whether it is due to unhappiness with the sport or simply acknowledging that they’re not the same fighter they once were, they made the decision to walk away.

Here they are:

#5. Frankie Edgar, former UFC lightweight champion

Frankie Edgar has had a Hall of Fame-worthy career. Unfortunately, a glimpse at his record doesn’t offer a decent understanding of how good he was in his prime. At 41 years old, ‘The Answer’ stuck around for far too long. He is a former UFC lightweight champion, having captured the title from the legendary B.J. Penn.

He is also known to have had two trilogies, one with Gray Maynard and another with B.J. Penn. While he was successful, ‘The Answer’ was always outsized in the lightweight division. After losing his title to Benson Henderson and failing to recapture it in a rematch, he made the change to 145 lbs.

He received an immediate title fight in the featherweight division but came up short against the then reigning champion José Aldo. While the former 155 lbs kingpin eventually earned another title fight, he failed again, eventually moving down to bantamweight before retiring.

With the rise of larger athletes, Frankie Edgar was simply too small to compete. His aging certainly did him no favors, and after losing to Chris Gutiérrez at UFC 281, he called it a career. He has lost five of his last six bouts, with four of his losses coming via KO. Thus, retirement was only natural.

#4. José Aldo, former UFC featherweight champion

José Aldo was the first-ever featherweight champion in the promotion. Furthermore, the Brazilian is widely regarded as one of the greatest fighters of all time. He was promoted from WEC’s featherweight kingpin to UFC titleholder after Zuffa’s acquisition of the WEC roster.

He successfully defended his title seven times before suffering his first loss in the promotion to then-future MMA superstar Conor McGregor. The defeat was a humiliating 13-second KO, but ‘Scarface’ quickly rebuilt himself and captured the interim title to book a rematch with ‘The Notorious’.

Unfortunately, the Irishman had no intention of returning to the featherweight division. José Aldo was promoted to the undisputed champion but soon lost his title to Max Holloway. After a string of losses, he cut to the bantamweight division, where he mounted yet another title run.

Alas, just as he was on the cusp of a title fight, he lost the eliminator bout to Merab Dvalishvili at UFC 278. At 36 years old, he opted to retire instead of stringing together a new series of wins for another crack at the title.

#3. Joanna Jędrzejczyk, former UFC strawweight champion

As one of the greatest women’s mixed martial artists in history, Joanna Jędrzejczyk is responsible for bringing attention to the UFC strawweight division as its champion. She was another female star that the UFC hoped would carry their roster of women to greater fan interest alongside Ronda Rousey.

Initially, the Polish great was an undefeated phenom whose thrilling, high-volume striking endeared her to the masses. Regardless of the opponent standing in front of her, Joanna Jędrzejczyk fought her heart out. However, very few fighters end their careers with undefeated records.

So when the legendary strawweight faced Rose Namajunas for the first time, she met her match, losing via first-round KO. She failed to recapture her title in a rematch but managed to bounce back with a win against Tecia Torres. But this was not a sign of things to come.

She never had another win streak in her career and eventually retired after losing to Zhang Weili in a rematch of their first UFC 248 meeting. After being KO’d for the second time in her career, the 35-year old retired with five losses in her last seven bouts.

#2. Luke Rockhold, former UFC middleweight champion

After he defeated Chris Weidman for divisional supremacy at UFC 194, many fans and analysts believed that Luke Rockhold would become a dominant force at 185 lbs. This prediction never came to pass as the AKA standout failed to mount a single successful title defense.

Rockhold lost his middleweight crown to Michael Bisping in one of the most shocking upsets in UFC history. The former titleholder lost via KO to ‘The Count’, who many once widely criticized as pillow-fisted. While he won his subsequent bout against David Branch, he never truly recovered.

The former titleholder suffered back-to-back KOs against Yoel Romero and Jan Błachowicz. The loss to the Polish power-puncher led to a three-year hiatus from the sport before he returned against Paulo Costa at UFC 278.

Unfortunately, he lost that bout and retired in his post-fight interview. He cited his age as his reason, and at 38 years old, it isn’t hard to see why.

#1. T.J. Dillashaw, former UFC bantamweight champion

T.J. Dillashaw’s skills are still incredible. Unfortunately, the former Team Alpha Male member has struggled with injuries in recent years. The retired 135’er first captured divisional gold by dethroning Renan Barão in one of the most one-sided beatings in UFC history.

He followed up his title win by defending his crown twice before losing a hotly contested decision against Dominick Cruz. However, after mounting a two-fight win streak, he recaptured his throne from former teammate Cody Garbrandt, who had just defeated ‘The Dominator’.

He successfully defended his title in a rematch with ‘No Love’ before challenging Henry Cejudo for the flyweight crown. T.J. Dillashaw’s efforts were disastrous. Not only did he lose via TKO, but he tested positive for EPO in a post-fight drug test. For this, USADA suspended him for a year.

Upon his return, he faced Cory Sandhagen but suffered a crippling knee injury despite winning the bout. He took a year away from the octagon to recover but returned against Aljamain Sterling in a title fight where the injury bug affected him again.

Unbeknownst to most people at the time, the former champion was dealing with a severe shoulder injury. He allegedly dislocated it 20 or so times during training but never informed the promotion’s doctors. During the fight, he dislocated his shoulder several times, quickly losing via TKO.

In the aftermath of the fight, he retired from MMA after being told how much time he’d need to recover from the injury. As he’s in his late thirties, he decided time was against him and walked away from the sport.

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