Ahead of the matchup, Ruediger joined the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Beatdown” show to reflect on his career.
On why he’s retiring: “I just feel like it’s time to finish it up. It’s been an 11-year run. I’ve had some ups, some downs, and it’s a good time to end my career. I’ve gone through two major surgeries. I had my neck fused in 2008. I had back surgery in 2011. I just can’t handle anymore physical damage.”
On his career: “I’ve spent 11 years doing this. I’ve done a lot. I was a two-time world champion in the WEC and the PFC. I fought in the UFC. I didn’t have the success in the UFC that I wanted, but I got there twice after a lot of adversity. After ‘The Ultimate Fighter,’ people were saying I’d never fight in the UFC again, that I was a joke and this and that. I came back from neck surgery and won the PFC title and then went back to the UFC. I’ve done a lot and I’m OK with going out on my terms.”
On what he would do differently regarding TUF: “The entertainment aspect of it is the biggest part of it. I came in as a character. I was myself, but it was me on level 15 … and then you add editing to that. I definitely would have gone in in a completely different mindset. I would have gone in in fighting shape, ready to fight that day. In my mind I was thinking reality show. I wasn’t thinking, ‘This is a fight.’ It didn’t even feel like a fight.”
On whether deciding to retire has been an emotional decision: “It’s actually been kind of serene. I feel very calm. I’ll still train. I just won’t train with the intensity necessary for a fight camp. I have two schools, so I’m with my students all the time. I’m trying to build them and I still do a lot of mat time, but again the intensity that’s necessary to get ready for a fight, I just can’t do that anymore. It’s just not realistic.”
On whether he sees his career as a success: “It was in the respect that I never expected it to be a career. When I had my first fight in 2002, I fought for $250. I had no expectations of fighting as a career, to be a fighter. In that respect, yeah, it has been. Obviously I’ve had some huge pitfalls, but I’ve done a lot of things that 98 percent of the fighters will never do. In that respect, I’m grateful and I do feel like I’ve had a successful career.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:15:27).