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Josh Thomson announces MMA retirement - ‘I don’t want to be anyone's punching bag’

UFC Fight Night Weigh-in Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and Strikeforce Lightweight contender, Josh Thomson, has announced his official retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA) after fighting professionally for 16 years.

“I can say that I’m officially retired,” Thomson began during a chat wit “Big” John McCarthy on the Weighing In Show (transcription via “I realized I was taking more shots than I should be taking. I don’t want to live that lifestyle. I don’t want to be in there and be a punching bag to anybody. I was taking more [damage] in training [too].”

It’s rather refreshing to see a fighter willingly admit that taking too many shots was a reality, as most are reluctant to admit that walking away is the best route. To hear Thomson tell it, most don’t see — or even realize — the amount of shots a fighters takes in training, which takes just as much (if not more) of a toll than those absorbed in the fight itself.

“That’s the thing, people only see the ones you take in the fight,” Thomson continued. “They don’t realize that you’re taking more [shots] in training, too. There’s young, talented studs in my gym.

“Those guys are whooping your ass too, it’s not just the one guy in the cage that you’re fighting,” he added. “It’s the lead up to it. It’s all the other shots you take in there. That’s the hardest part.”

Thomson had two separate runs with UFC, with the first one only lasting one year from 2003 to 2004. He went 2-1 inside the Octagon before competing for PRIDE and eventually finding a home under the Strikeforce banner in 2006. He went on to fight 11 times for the now-defunct organization, winning the Lightweight title in just his second fight by defeating Nam Phan.

During his time with the promotion, Thomson earned notable wins over the likes of Gilbert Melendez, Gesias Cavalcante and K.J. Noons before finding his way back to the Octagon in 2013.

His first fight back saw him knockout Nate Diaz at UFC on FOX 7 (recap here). After dropping his next three bouts, “Punk” went on to fight for Bellator MMA three times, most recently losing to Patricky Freire in 2017, which turned out to be the final fight of his career.

Thompson is currently an analyst and broadcaster for Bellator MMA.

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