Within the last week two of the UFC’s biggest stars Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson and BJ Penn have given an indication of when they see themselves retiring from the sport.
Coincidentally they both plan to do so at the same age – 35. Jackson is currently 32, Penn will also turn 32 on December 13th.
“I’m 31 right now. I want to fight a lot more until I’m 35 and then maybe call it quits,” Penn stated following his 21 second destruction of old rival Matt Hughes on Saturday night.
Rampage had voiced similar thoughts just days earlier.
“I’m 32 now. I wanna retire at 35 – no later than 35. A lot of these young guys coming in MMA and they doing well, I’m almost like a dinosaur pretty soon. So, I’m gonna let the young guys take over. ‘m gonna kick back and watch them,” he told MMA Live on Thursday.
Rampage and Penn aren’t the only 30 something’s dreaming of retirement at that age though.
“I think that up to 35 is still possible,” Lyoto Machida told Sherdog.com in the summer of this year, “but after that it starts getting tricky. With my experience as an athlete, I think that the efficiency will not be the same after that.”
Of course saying and doing are two completely different things. Take Anderson Silva for instance.
“When he came out and we started representing him, I asked him what his long term goal was. He always said he imagined himself retiring at 35,” Silva’s manager Ed Soares revealed last year.
At that time there was considerable talk of the middleweight champion retiring, but he’s since had a change of heart. By the time his next fight arrives in February of 2011 he’ll be two months shy of his 36th birthday and still appears to have every intention of fighting beyond that point.
It’s more than possible that Penn, Jackson and Machida will do the same. It’s one thing to talk about retirement when it’s still years away, but quite another when it’s staring you in the face and you have to consider leaving the fame, fortune and the thrill of competition behind you.