Following the UFC on FOX 4: Shogun vs. Vera pre-fight press conference on Aug. 2, UFC President Dana White informed a group of reporters that he wants former UFC champions Matt Hughes and Forrest Griffin to retire from mixed martial arts competition.
Since the initial comments, there has been mixed reactions from fans and media regarding what the UFC boss had to say.
White’s statement on Hughes wasn’t all that surprising considering it has been known for some time that the 38-year-old is at the tail-end of his career, going 0-2 in his last two bouts, and has been thinking about retirement for the last couple of years. Griffin, however, is still competitive with elite 205-pound fighters and there was some backlash from fans over White’s comments.
While it may be confusing to some that White would want two former champions and proven pay-per-view draws to retire from the sport, White believes there comes a point in a fighter’s career where they no longer need the money and going through the physical trauma it takes to train for the UFC-level of competition simply isn’t worth it anymore.
“One of the things that you guys have to understand is…some of the people out there are smashing me. ‘Who are you to tell somebody when they should be able to retire? It’s their decision and everything else.” White said on a recent Google+ chat. “Guess what, this isn’t like you’re working at GE, you work for Microsoft and I’m coming and telling you ‘you should retire,’ this is the fight business. When you get to a certain point, and even some of these, some of the fans, guess what? I know more than you do.”
In the specific cases of Hughes and Griffin, White feels the two former champions have done all they can in the sport and although they can still put on great fights, reclaiming their championship glory is farfetched at this point. White says if you can’t win or at the very least compete for a UFC title, then why bother?
“I know how much money these guys got, I know exactly what’s going on in these guys heads. Neither one of these guys (Hughes and Griffin) are going to be on another title run, you know what I mean? And you look at a guy like Forrest, and I don’t want to count anyone out, anything is possible, but Jonny ‘Bones’ Jones is nasty, he’s young, you know, this is just a young man’s sport.”
Griffin, 33, could still be considered a young man in the sport. “The Ultimate Fighter” season one winner is 3-1 in his last four bouts with his most recent win coming against Tito Ortiz at UFC 148 in July.
There have been some fighters in recent years where it has been blatantly obvious they need to retire either because of age, deterioration of skills, or they can no longer take the kind of damage they once were able too, UFC Hall-of-Fame inductee Chuck Liddell is an example of the latter. That’s not the case with Hughes and Griffin, though. White simply thinks there is nothing left for either man to accomplish and it’s time for Hughes and Griffin to call it quits.
“Forrest Griffin and Matt Hughes, they’ve made the tons of money, tons of money, they’ve both had huge accomplishments,” he said. “I would like to see them retire because I care about them. Forrest Griffin and Matt Hughes both have beautiful wives, they have beautiful kids, tons of money, right? Why get punched in the face any more if you don’t have to?”
White is not expecting Hughes or Griffin to follow his words and end their careers, but if they do decide to retire from the sport in light of his recent comments, that doesn’t mean either fighter is done with UFC. Like Liddell, White will have makes a place in the organization for as long as they wish to stay.
“I’m not just sitting here telling these guys ‘that’s it, retire, you’ve got to go away’. Both of these guys will still be involved with the UFC. Both these guys have done a lot of great things for us, been great partners to us, and I care about them both.
In the end, White says he doesn’t care about making money off the fighters. The UFC president believes it is all about keeping the fighters safe and making sure they have long and healthy lives. White knows names like Hughes and Griffin could sell as main or co-main events on PPV events, but he has no interest in using those business tactics when he feels one of the fighters he is promoting shouldn’t be in the cage.
“This is a promoter here; I’m a promoter, that’s what I do for a living.” White explained in the chat. “These are two of the biggest names. I could put Matt Hughes and Forrest Griffin out and there and I could make money off them. I don’t want to make one dollar of that kind of money,”
“There’s just no reason for these guys at that age to go out and fight these young up and coming guys. That’s my point.”