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An MMA Veteran Retires

Middleweight+Tim+Kennedy%2C+of+the+United+States%2C+poses+during+the+weigh-in+Tuesday%2C+April+15%2C+2014%2C+in+Quebec+City+for+the+UFC%27s+%22The+Ultimate+Fighter+Nations%22+event+Wednesday.+Kennedy+faces+Michael+Bisping%2C+of+England.+%28AP+Photo%2FThe+Canadian+Press%2C+Jacques+Boissinot%29
Middleweight Tim Kennedy, of the United States, poses during the weigh-in Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Quebec City for the UFC's

Middleweight Tim Kennedy, of the United States, poses during the weigh-in Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Quebec City for the UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter Nations" event Wednesday. Kennedy faces Michael Bisping, of England. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot)

AP

AP

Middleweight Tim Kennedy, of the United States, poses during the weigh-in Tuesday, April 15, 2014, in Quebec City for the UFC's "The Ultimate Fighter Nations" event Wednesday. Kennedy faces Michael Bisping, of England. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jacques Boissinot)

Olivia Xu, Sports Editor

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Two days ago, UFC middleweight fighter Tim Kennedy announced his retirement. His last fight was a loss to Kelvin Gastelum by TKO on December 10th at UFC 206.

To his name, Kennedy has an impressive 18-6 professional record and victories over names like former middleweight fighter Robbie Lawler and current champion Michael Bisping. Tim Kennedy was an active duty soldier from 2004 to 2009, and worked for private security firms after he moved from the army to the Texas National Guard. He also starred on the show Hunting Hitler while still in the UFC. At thirty-seven years of age, his retirement from the sport is well-deserved.

In his personal statement that he posted on his Facebook page, Kennedy admits that, following his last loss, despite appreciating the encouragement of his peers, “…they didn’t feel what I felt, and that’s being 37. I felt like I was in slow motion the entire match. I felt tired for the first time ever in a fight… I’m the guy that is always in shape. And I was for this fight. I worked harder than I ever have before for this fight. But I wasn’t me anymore. My brain knew what to do but my body did not respond.” His words probably ring true for many, especially other athletes who find their strength fading after long years on the field, on the court, or in the ring.

From here, some interesting questions are raised – how old is too old for MMA? As any sports fan knows, concussions in any high impact sport are conspicuous blemish on the image of athleticism, and mixed martial arts is arguably the highest impact sport, along with boxing. Over time, the risk of brain injury grows higher, and the cumulative effect of knocking your brain around, even if it’s only once or twice a year, can become devastating. Several fighters under thirty years of age are indecisive about their future in MMA – for a fighter seventeen years into his career, Kennedy’s decision had only become clearer after his last loss.

A loss in another sport can be shrugged off. A loss in MMA can lead to permanent injury. As one reporter puts it, “If you’re not winning, you shouldn’t be fighting.” While many expected Kennedy to shrug off the loss and take attempt to retire on a victory, he arguably took the safer and smarter route out of a sport predicated on knocking people unconscious. Of course, there are the freaks of nature like former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion, Dan Henderson, who fought his last bout in 2016 at the age of forty-six. However, nobody can blame Kennedy for moving away from MMA, especially with a wife and two children to take care of.

Ever gracious in defeat, Kennedy offers Gastelum some words of praise, calling him “ a really respectful and hard-working young fighter,” even saying that he “was kind of happy [he] lost to a guy like [Gastelum].”

What’s next? Kennedy runs his own clothing line, called Ranger Up, and will be acting in the film Range 15.

Although we’ll miss him in the ring, we’re glad that Kennedy will continue his stay in the public eye. Best of luck to him and the fighters that follow his path.

Tim Kennedy in his National Guard uniform with his wife. Taken from his Instagram.

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An MMA Veteran Retires