Many athletes reach a point in their careers in which they think, “Is it time for me to hang them up?  Do I have just one more in me? What will I do if I retire?” When it comes to a team sport, that decision may be made based on a few things: whether there is someone to take your place, the confidence you have in your teammates, whether or not you think your body can take it, how much passion you have left but a lot of times it just comes down to the money.

For fighters, however, they have nobody to back them up if they make a mistake, nobody to step in and take over for them at halftime and definitely nobody to pick up their slack in the middle of a fight. For fighters, it mostly comes down to their physical abilities and their passion; but for some, it’s all about putting food on the table for their families.

The most recent fighter to come to these crossroads is TUF alum, Keith Jardine (15-9).  Jardine has had his ups and downs in the UFC since coming out of the TUF house.  After winning two fights in a row, Jardine suffered his first UFC loss at the hands of Stephan Bonnar, but quickly bounced back to string together two more wins against Wilson Gouveia and Forrest Griffin before being brutally knocked out by Houston Alexander. After that fight, his performance was never the same; going 2-6 in his last eight fights and losing the last five in a row.

Now let’s bring up the taboo subject of whether or not he should retire.

Looking at it from the fan and spectator perspective, you say no and talk about his fighting ability. He is definitely a fun fighter to watch as his unorthodox stance and powerful striking tend to confuse his opponents and a knock out could come at any second.

If you remove yourself as a fan and look at it as an unbiased viewer, you may ask how much more physical abuse can his body take, question whether or not you want to see him get beat up anymore and wonder about the possible long-term effects that being on the wrong end of another beat down may bring.

Keith Jardie is not alone at these crossroads; other fighters such as Chuck Liddell and Ken Shamrock are at a point in their career where they are beyond their prime and cannot perform as well as they once did. This dilemma extends to other sports as well, with athletes such as Brett Favre and Shaq O’Neal pondering whether to retire or not (but as you all know they opted for the latter).

Following the lose Jardine talked of having a severe migraine before and during the fight, citing that as his reason for his slow start. There is no way to prove this so we have to take Jardine’s word for it, but in the back of your head remember that excuses is the first sign of denial.

Only one thing is for sure, none of us know what is going on inside Jardine’s head or how much more punishment his body can withstand.  Just as many before him have done, he will have to discuss with himself, his family, his friends and his trainers as to what his next move will be.

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