A story that seemed to have gone under the radar leading into UFC 167 was that Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Light Heavyweight champion Jon Jones was planning to retire from mixed martial arts (MMA) before his 30th birthday.
Obviously, this is important news as Jones is 26 years old and one of the most marketable fighters in the promotion. But with everyone focusing on Georges St-Pierre's welterweight title defense against Johny Hendricks, it's understandable why it no one really paid much attention to Jones.
Jones made the statement on CBS radio's 105.7 The Fan's "Norris and Ed Show" in Baltimore when he was asked how long he planned to fight. Jones responded, "I'm 26 right now. I think a man can be in his fighting prime until his mid 30′s. Saying that though I would like to retire by 30, so a few more years."
However, it was easy to write off as just a fighter talking nonsense hoping to angle for a bigger contract to stay in the fight game. But apparently Jones meant exactly what he said as he recently spoke with Mike Bohn of MMA Junkieand confirmed that he in fact does plan on leaving the fight game early.
"I just want to leave the sport with a good head on my shoulders," Jones told MMAjunkie. "I don't want to be one of these guys that are taking fights way past their prime."
"No. No I didn't say that for more money," Jones said. "Right now, where I'm at financially, I never thought I would be, so I could honestly retire today [and be financially secure]."
With the topic de jour being fighter health, or more specifically, fighter brain health, Jones should be commended for having an escape plan in place for the day he hangs up the gloves. And while it won't be a popular decision with UFC brass and MMA fans, it would be refreshing to see a fighter retire before his skills begin to fade.
Only time will tell if Jones sticks to this plan. But I for one hope that he stays true to these words. I'd love to see a fighter retire on top rather than be used as a stepping stone for younger fighters to build a name upon.