Jeff Monson retires from combat sports
Yesterday while training I suffered a complete tendon tear that will require surgery. It’ll be a year rehabilitation to be full strength.
So the reason I’m posting this is because this is it for competition or even high-level training. I have had eleven surgeries over my career and the body has just finally had enough. It is the most difficult thing for a fighter to admit he/she can’t do it anymore. It’s part of who you are. Consequently, many fighters hang in too long and tarnish their legacies or suffer injuries. It’s very hard to admit you’re not the athlete you used to be. I’m completely blind in my left eye from a fight a few years ago but continued fighting and suffered some defeats from punches I couldn’t see. I concentrated on jujitsu and had dreams of winning the worlds in 2020 but coronavirus canceled everything. I said I’d retire five years ago but I couldn’t because I always believed I had one more big win and successful tournament in me. I feared walking away and regretting not having tried to the very last opportunity.
I look back at the many many memories- winning ADCC in 1999 for the first time, fighting some of the greats – Chuck Liddell, Fedor, Barnett, Cormier and many others, winning the worlds in jujitsu and in grappling, ADCC again… But this is a tough sport on your body and in your head. The match I think about the most is losing the UFC championship to Tim Sylvia. I have achieved a lot in grappling but I wonder how things wouid have been different if I had won this fight. I’ve played it in my mind a million times how I should’ve, could’ve, would’ve…
I have had many great experiences in and out of the cage because of fighting. I’ve traveled the world and met such fantastic and interesting people. I was lucky enough to have great coaches on the best team on the planet on #American Top Team. I have opportunities now in Russia working with kids and the homeless to make positive social changes. I realize I am truly blessed, truly fortunate.
But all this came at a cost, not only with my body. Unfortunately, I cannot walk away with no regrets. I was away all the time and my relationships suffered. It is difficult not to be selfish when you are thinking of winning and your own success. I hurt my wife Jennifer and my kids very much. I can’t go back in time and change this. But as you get older you can learn from these experiences and try not to repeat them.
I want to say thank you to everyone that I met on this journey – people that helped me or just said hello, fans, fighters I went up against (I became friends after with several of my opponents), my team ATT, the many friendly faces in all parts of the world…. It is literally with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart I write this knowing there is no tomorrow- nothing to train for, no event upcoming. I have learned that no matter what your profession or lifestyle – go enjoy life. Cherish the people who love you and don’t take them for granted. Travel and meet everyone you can – it is the best way to rid ourselves of silly prejudices. Be successful and healthy and I truly wish all of you happiness.
He started fighting in 1996, initially going 7-3, including three fights in the UFC where he decisioned Tim Lajcik and lost to Chuck Liddell and Ricco Rodriguez. Then he put together a monster twelve-fight win streak, which brought him back to the UFC with vengeance. He won three more in the big show, which earned him a title heavyweight title shot at Tim Sylvia. He lost a decision, and asked to be released from his UFC contract. with the aim of fighting then-PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko in a 2007 BodogFIGHT event. That fell through, and Monson fought on and on.
He retires with a record of 61-26-1. Career wins include Alecks Emelianenko, Kazuyuki Fujita, Sergei Kharitonov, Mark Kerr, Roy Nelson, Alexey Oleynik, and Rodriguez. losses include Josh Barnett, Daniel Cormier, Fedor Emelianenko, Forrest Griffin, and Pedro Rizzo.
“The Snowman” also leaves an extraordinary record in grappling. The former NCAA wrestler won gold twice, silver twice, and bronze once at the ADCC Submission Wrestling World Championships. And won gold in the 2007 No-Gi IBJJF World Jiu-Jitsu Championships Absolute division, among countless other accolades. Many even refer to the choke from North South as a Monson Choke.
His final fight was a win over Alex Kardo at Industrials Battle in Belgorod, Russia, on October 22, 2016, via Monson Choke.