Aaron Riley, who started fighting for Jeff Osborne's HOOKnSHOOT back in 1997, has retired following a split decision loss to Justin Salas at UFC on Fox 8 Saturday night. At 32, he has lived half his life - literally - as a professional fighter.
Riley had planned to retire regardless of how the fight went, thought it would be little remembered, and was surprized at the amount of attention he got when it was announced on Twitter. Riley pointedly did not make a big announcement about it, as he is unimpressed with fighters who make drawn out retirement announcements, and then invariably fight again.
"With all the influx of fans, these days when you lose a fight you've got people on Twitter telling you that you suck, saying, 'I'm happy you got your ass kicked,' and they're pretty brutal sometimes," Riley told MMAjunkie.com's Ben Fowlkes. "After enough of that stuff, you sometimes forget there are people out there who actually appreciate you. I just didn't feel like that many people cared one way or another if it was my last fight or not."
"To me, sometimes it seems like people build that up. I wasn't looking for that. I just didn't think it was that important for me to make a big deal about it. I see people do that all the time, which is another reason I didn't want to trumpet that this was my last fight. You see people who go on and on and on for six months before their damn fight even happens, and then you just know they're going to be back in six months or a year anyway."
"I've been contemplating it for a couple years. I just vacillated back and forth on the thing..."
"It was a lot of little things. I don't feel as passionate about it as I used to. It used to be the only thing I thought about. Training and fighting, I was consumed by it. I lived in the gym at one stage in my life, when I first moved to Washington state. I lived in the gym for a year and a half. I was so dedicated to this sport. Now, I don't know, I just don't feel as in love with it as I was. I still love it, but I'm not as crazy about rushing out and getting hit in the face anymore."
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