Fighters Only Guest Column, March 2012 - I’m 32 and my wife tells me she thinks they’re going to need an intervention to get me to retire. And, the truth is, I really don’t know how long I’ll fight. I get asked a lot about when I am going to call it day, but the only thing I can say is I don’t think I’m going to be in the game as long as someone such as Randy Couture, who bowed out at 47.
I’ll always be a martial artist, obviously. I’ll start thinking about it when the consequences of the sport outweigh the benefits. If I were pushed for an answer I’d say I’ll stop within the next five years. The reason being, my children. I don’t want to take away from their lives.
I see too many people, not only athletes but other people who are very successful, where their occupation requires a lot of sacrifices in order to excel. I don’t want to make those sacrifices anymore when it means not going to my daughter’s soccer game, or my son’s wrestling matches, or a spelling bee that my kids are competing in. No amount of money and no title could replace those moments in life. What else is there to live for?
But, there are plenty of challenges ahead in the Octagon before I do call time. Obviously you always want to fight the best. Cain Velasquez and Fabricio Werdum would be intriguing bouts. I don’t think there’s anybody I wouldn’t want to fight, to be honest. Everyone poses their own individual issues and problems. Werdum has his ground skills, his guard, and his very well-developed stand-up game poses a threat.
Alistair Overeem is probably the best all-around striker in the heavyweight division. I mean, the guy has a K-1 title under his belt. None of the heavyweight MMA guys have really topped that, aside from Mark Hunt, but certainly no one top five in the division. I’m sure I’ll meet them all.
Like in all combat sports, the heavyweight division in mixed martial arts isn’t that deep. A lot of times the top guys keep cycling through each other. I’ve already settled the score with Nogueira, though, so that’s one off the list.
However, I know I’m not going down to light heavyweight any time soon. That was kind of a crazy little pipe dream I had. At the time it seemed like it made more sense; there were so many more fights for me there. But now there’s Jon Jones so I guess I’ll stay a heavyweight. There’s talk he could make heavyweight in a few years as he bulks out but he doesn’t like to eat that much, at least, I hope.
Between Jon Jones and the UFC’s blockbuster year in 2011 it’s hard not to think of the future. I went to UFC 129 in April, attended by 55,000 people in the Rogers Centre in Toronto. It was an amazing experience. Sitting ringside in the middle of a baseball field, it was unbelievable to look around and see that many people in a stadium.
I really don’t know when the UFC’s popularity is going to hit the ceiling. Every time people tell me, ‘They’re eventually going to stop selling tickets and pay-per-views,’ because we’re increasing the number of events each year all the time. And with Strikeforce we’re basically having fights every week or even four or five times a month. But obviously if the UFC brass keeps putting pay-per-view events out there they’re still being purchased. I don’t really see an end to it. Obviously, everything tops off, but I don’t know when or if this will.
When my time competing in the sport is over, I guess I’d really like to move back into commentating and coaching for MMA. But my biggest thing is to be a full-time father. I don’t want my children to be Frank Mir’s kids, I want to be Isabella’s father. To be known as that would make me happy.