When Brent Weedman retired last week, he cited his growing family as the chief reason that it was better to step away from MMA than continue the massive physical, mental, and time sink that is a professional MMA career. For Quinn Mulhern, however, the reasons are much more complicated; and in what seems to be a difficult moment of clarity Mulhern has decided to step away from his pro-MMA career. He announced his retirement via Facebook after his fight on Saturday night:
Hey guys. First, just let me express how grateful I am for the love and support of a whole community of people. Especially those folks who have been with me from the beginning of my MMA career. I love you all, thank you.
The dust hasn't settled exactly so I wouldn't normally do this now...but it feels like it's the right time: I am retiring from MMA.
This camp was as perfect as they come. Everything fell into place, mentally, physically...my weight cut was a success. I got to a place of mental focus where I have never been before. But when I got in the cage I just didn't have it. It wasn't nerves, I didn't freeze...I just didn't have the physical gifts or skill the win. Bottom line is that I could put in years of continued work but I won't be competitive at this level. Perhaps I'd get quite a bit better, but I think if rather spend that time on something new. I feel this in my bones.
So this is not a tantrum of self-pity. In fact, I feel very clear and good about this decision. I'm so grateful to have done what I've done. I've gotten to travel all over the world and to fight professionally over twenty times. But this is it.
Now what to do next is the question. I'll leave that alone for a while. But I'm hopeful and excited for the next step.
The phrase that was the theme of my training camp was "All in due time." I think that phrase is quite fitting, even now.
It's probably one of the most introspective and honest retirement announcements I've ever seen from an athlete. There are no excuses, no secret injuries, no complaints of financial difficulty or mental exasperation, just a recognition that not everyone is physically gifted enough to compete at the highest level. It's a somewhat sobering reminder to those of us sitting at home thinking that with the right amount of training and dedication we could probably get out there and give a lot of guys a run for their money.
After all, Quinn, for all his humility, wracked up an 18-4 career record; he became a KOTC champion and beat Rich Clementi and Yuri Villefort along the way. His only losses have come to highly regarded top tier vets. But for many, even the vast majority of fighters competing right now, physical limits are a real ceiling. There's only so much more flexible you can make yourself, only so much faster, more agile, more powerful you can get. Once you hit those walls, the challenges ahead of you can be almost insurmountable.
I can never think badly of a fighter who decides to step away from the sport, but I feel an extra sense of kinship for someone who decides to step away because they've come to grips with their own limitations. Here's to wishing Quinn the best in his future endeavors, whatever they may be. And I hope they take him further than fighting did, even if he got pretty far doing that.