Yves Edwards, veteran of more than 65 fights and a long time fan favorite, has decided to call it a career.
The announcement came Sunday night on Edwards' Facebook page where he wrote:
I've thought about how to say this for a week now, but there's no better way than to just do it. So here goes; 1st I'd like to say thank you to all the people that I've met through and because of fighting, friends, training partners, coaches, fight fans, doctors and even some promoters/matchmakers. A lot of you guys have always shown me nothing but love and I really appreciate that.
Fighting has been a part of my life ever since I was 17 and that makes this a hard pill to swallow but it's time for me to end this chapter and move on to the next part of my life. So thank you again to all the people that have supported me through this, whether it was through cheers, training, coaching or anything else at all.
Edwards was a star on the regional scene in Texas in the late 90's and early 00's. At the time he became well known for a pair of exciting fights with Aaron Riley. The rematch with Riley was featured in the "Showdown" documentary (a DVD which I'm happy to have purchased as a teenager) and, after winning the bout, Yves would become a UFC fighter.
Following losses to Matt Serra and Caol Uno to start his UFC career, Edwards rattled off six straight wins in the UFC. During that period he was considered by many to be the uncrowned UFC lightweight champion. The belt had been abandoned when Uno and BJ Penn fought to a draw at UFC 41. Penn would leave the division and, ultimately, the promotion while Uno would get knocked out by Hermes Franca and then leave the UFC.
Edwards picked up a win over Franca at UFC 47 and also beat Josh Thomson (who, had also beat Franca) with one of the greatest headkick KOs in MMA history. Those two wins established his spot as the UFC's uncrowned lightweight king and capped off his six fight UFC win streak.
Edwards also fought in WEC in 2004, PRIDE in 2005 and 2006, BodogFight in 2006-2007, EliteXC from 2007-2008, Strikeforce in 2008, Bellator in 2010 and made a return to the UFC in 2010. An incredible run of fighting in every promotion of note during his career.
He went 4-2 in the UFC from 2010 to 2012, but closed out with five straight losses in the last two years (one of which was overturned to a no contest after Yancy Medeiros tested positive for marijuana).
In an interview with Ariel Helwani on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour, Edwards went into detail about his decision to retire, citing the way that his last few fights may have tainted his legacy and that he doesn't want to be a guy just fighting for a paycheck or risking his health.
He even discussed a situation in his last fight where he experienced some lapsed time and how it made it clear that he was done:
"As soon as I was fully conscious of what was going on, I don’t…I remember standing up from my butt, and [wondering] how in the hell did I get knocked down -- like, what the hell? And then I don’t remember…I remember my leg being caught in the air. I haven’t really watched it, but I remember my leg being caught in the air and remember being in an armbar thinking I was in practice.
"And then as soon as I was coherent, I said, ‘I think I’m done.’"
He also spoke to MMA Junkie and discussed his legacy, wondering how fans will remember him as he's a man whose career was at its true peak before the big MMA boom:
"At the height of my career, the sport wasn’t what it is now. I will never know what it’s like to hold a world title. That’s always going to be a part of fighting that I’ll never have. It’s a memory I’ll never have, a feeling I’ll never have, to know what it’s like to feel like a champion. That’s the reason I wanted to do this, to be a champion. I don’t know how people will remember me."
"People that know about those days of trading VHS tapes, they know me differently than those fans who only know what’s on their DVR or what’s on their phone," Edwards continued. "That’s a different generation of fans, and I don’t think they’re going to look at my history or what I leave behind the same, which is understandable. Ultimately, I wasn’t doing this for them. I consider myself fortunate that any of them liked watching me do it or were willing to pay to see me fight, to see me do what I love to do."
Edwards retires with a career mark of 42-22-1 (1 NC)--though Edwards says that at least one fight isn't caught by his official record. But his is a career that should not be summed up by a surface glance at his win/loss mark.