We’ve got a real study in contrasts lined up for UFC Fight Night 120 on Nov. 11 in Norfolk, Va. That’s when Matt Brown, who says his next fight will be his last, will take on Diego Sanchez, who seems almost pathologically incapable of even considering retirement while he’s still capable of forming a fist.
That’s not just a clash between two 30-something fighters; this is a battle of competing late-career ideologies.
For starters, look at Brown. He’s lost three in a row, and five of his last six, but what’s really fueling his decision to hang it up, he says, is that he doesn’t want to hang around in the middle of the pack just for the sake of a paycheck.
“I didn’t get into this to be a journeyman, or to be in second place; I came into this to be a champion,” Brown said on “The MMA Hour” this week.
While he came close to earning a title shot thanks to a seven-fight winning streak spanning over two years, Brown said, “I don’t feel like I have that hunger inside my heart that’s going to get me back to that point, and that’s not to say I won’t ever come back one day. … But I’m not going to come back unless I plan on making a run for the title.”
Brown has other concerns, too. He’s spoken frankly about the unsettling side effects from what he believed to be his first concussion. He’d start sentences and be unable to finish them, he said. He’d stand up and then fall right over. Troubling symptoms, even if he eventually recovered.
So now he’s gone public with his plan to retire after the Sanchez fight, and he did so in part to make sure he followed through with it, he said. Especially for winning fighters, it’s easy to get caught up in the momentum, to squeeze in one more and then one more and then one more. This way, he’s got some accountability to consider.
But then, in the other corner, there’s Sanchez, one of the only fighters from the original cast of “The Ultimate Fighter” who’s still active – and still straining against the calls for him to retire.
The last time he heard those calls was after his first-round knockout loss to Al Iaquinta in April. It was the second time in less than a year that Sanchez had been stopped by strikes, which used to be a thing that simply didn’t happen to him. Still, he took to his Instagram after that fight to announce that he had decided to “continue to roar like a lion,” dismissing fan and media concerns that the same punches he once shrugged off were now putting him to sleep.
“(Losing) is a part of this sport, I choose to believe in my god given abilities and had work earned talent!” Sanchez wrote. “I choose to believe in my dream! I am confident, I am experienced, i am still very healthy, young for my physical age and more driven and hungry for success than ever.”
For anyone who’d followed Sanchez’s career, this was no great surprise. The man is, and has always been, a human pitbull. Even if his teeth start falling out and people stop fearing his bite, it’s not like he can suddenly learn how to be a house cat.
That’s what makes even this contrast between the two so tricky. Both Brown and Sanchez are still being the people that it’s in them to be, it’s just that one has changed along with his circumstances and one hasn’t.
Brown can admit that he’s almost hopelessly far from a title shot, and in possession of a human brain that was never intended to absorb repeated blunt force trauma.
Sanchez, on the other hand, has never stopped believing, which is a blessing and a curse. He will rage against the dying of the light. If need be, he might even rage on in total darkness.
Original Source Credit: mmajunkie.com