After 13 years, 21 fights and a wealth of memorable experience, Javier Vazquez is officially calling it a career.
The former World Extreme Cagefighting talent made the announcement on the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Rewind” show on Sunday evening. The decision comes with bouts still remaining on Vazquez’s current UFC deal, though the fighter known as “Showtime” has not stepped into the Octagon since defeating Joe Stevenson at UFC Live 4 on June 26, 2011.
“I don’t see a need nor a want to fight anymore,” Vazquez said. “I feel like whether you like me or you hate me, people respect me. I do have fights left on my contract, but I just don’t want to do it. I didn’t want to be that guy that everyone is begging to retire. I did everything in my career on my terms.”
Vazquez retires from mixed martial arts with a 16-5 professional record, with three of those defeats – Alberto Crane, L.C. Davis and Deividas Taurosevicius -- coming via split decision. Now 35 years old, the Pomona, Calif., native knows that had those narrow losses gone his way, his resume could have been even more impressive. Still, Vazquez has no regrets about the way things turned out, and he made the decision to leave the sport behind not long after scoring a unanimous verdict over Stevenson in his Octagon debut more than a year and a half ago.
“When I got back to the locker room after the Stevenson fight, I just knew I had nothing left. I had nothing left to prove. I knew my knee and my body had definitely had enough,” Vazquez said. “I didn’t want to do it. I just didn’t want to do it anymore. The fear of stepping into the cage is just the fear I didn’t want to experience anymore.
“I felt that technically it was the best I had ever been, mentally the best I’d ever been. Physically I’d had better days, but I was making it work. I’d modified my game and made adjustments in my style so that the injuries were almost hidden,” he continued. “I just don’t want to fight anymore. I (wanted) to officially announce my retirement. I knew, I just didn’t know how to say it and when to say it. I had nothing left to give anymore. I had nothing physically left to give.”
The course of Vazquez’s career was drastically altered at a King of the Cage event in 2003. It was there that the fighter blew out his knee in the first round of a lightweight title defense against Crane, and it was there that Vazquez decided to keep pushing through the pain, despite the long-term affect it might have on his health and career. However, Vazquez knew he had a UFC deal on the table, and with that in mind, quitting on a fight was not an option.
“In the middle of a fight you don’t really realize what the consequences will be 10 years later – or 20 or 30. The only thing I was thinking was, you have a UFC contract at home. You have to get through this fight,” he said. “Sometimes I just think I should have stopped. Where would my career have been if I had quit after the first round and had a full rehab and eventually rematched [Crane] and beat him, just kind of saved myself?”
A potential bout against Hermes Franca at UFC 42 fell by the wayside, and after Vazquez won a fight against Robert Emerson in November 2003, he injured his knee again – this time during a training session. What resulted was more than a three-year hiatus from MMA for Vasquez, who chose to focus entirely on grappling during that period.
“My knee never really felt the same after that second surgery. I just didn’t really understand the extent of the damage at the time,” Vazquez said.
Despite competing on a less-than-100-percent knee, Vazquez made his return to the cage in 2007. Eventually, “Showtime” found a home with the WEC, where he would earn arguably the signature victory of his career against Jens Pulver in 2010. It was a pivotal win for Vazquez, one he describes as “probably the most important moment of my life.”
In the next phase of his life, Vazquez hopes to pass on his knowledge to others, and he has a very clear vision of how this will take place.
“I am building my future. I knew what I wanted to do post-fighting. I’ve been planning and preparing myself for this moment the last five or six years,” he said. “I’m developing my curriculum and developing my academy. It’s a tremendous project. I probably have somewhere around six hundred pages written. I started writing last October. I’m just done with the first draft of the curriculum.” Vazquez’s body might have suffered through the wear-and-tear of a demanding career, but he believes he still has plenty to offer.
“Mentally I have a lot to give. All my experience, all my knowledge, all my technique—I’m very passionate about passing on my knowledge. I’d like to work with some of the women in MMA because I feel that some of the technique is lacking. I want to work with people I feel I’m gonna have a huge impact on technically,” he said.
Listen to the entire interview with Javier Vazquez here.