“Father Time is undefeated.”
Those words have stuck with me since I heard them last July from boxer Glen Johnson, who smiled sadly as he announced his retirement from boxing in a classy post fight interview with the ESPN Friday Night Fights crew. It seems nothing is ever for certain in the fight game… with that one exception. Everyone’s time comes eventually.
It wasn’t ‘one of those nights’ where I feel like I’m off. Sometimes you go out there as an athlete, and you perform and you’re trying hard, but there’s some things that aren’t there. That’s not the situation tonight. I felt good. I was doing what I wanted to do. I saw some things I wanted to do and I just couldn’t get there to do them. So, I feel like the end of the road is here. You know, Father time is undefeated. He’ll always catch up with you — no matter what your efforts are or what your mindset might be…
Johnson, a 43 year old former light heavyweight champion, was known as “The Road Warrior” — one of the game’s great and often under-appreciated workhorses, unafraid to journey to an opponent’s hometown to beat the odds. In fact, his opponent that night, Andrzej Fonfara (a man 19 years Johnson’s junior), was fighting in his hometown of Chicago.
Having lost his three prior bouts, Johnson had admitted in interviews preceding the fight that if he couldn’t defeat an opponent of Fonfara’s caliber, then he couldn’t challenge for a title again — and it was time to retire. He stayed true to his word after Fonfara was awarded the decision victory that night, and announced that he was leaving the sport for good.
This weekend sees another under-appreciated warrior of the fight game take to the mat: Jim Miller, who will face Fabrício Camões at UFC 168 in Las Vegas on Saturday night.
Miller may only be 30 years old, but he’s logged a lot of miles since entering the UFC Octagon for the first time back in 2008 at UFC 89. A former NCAA Division 1 wrestler with a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt, Miller has been a rock-steady (and sometimes spectacular) performer, earning both submission of the night and fight of the night honors three times each. His 2012 “Fight of the Year” performance against Joe Lauzon last December, Miller’s comeback fight after a rare submission loss to Nate Diaz, earned Miller his eleventh win in the UFC lightweight division — the second-most in division history.
Yet somehow, he has never contended for the UFC Lightweight title.
Miller followed up the winning effort against Lauzon with another “Fight of the Night” — a great back and forth battle with Pat Healy where Miller almost earned an early knockout. It could have gotten him back on track, but Healy scored the upset with a choke late in the fight.
In another twist, that result was later changed to a “no contest” as Healy failed his post-fight drug tests due to marijuana, but Miller is left without much momentum tomorrow.
If Miller decides to hang them up, without a title shot in sight — one can hope he leaves in the good spirits Glen Johnson did.
Well, until you realize Johnson has fought three times since then. More proof that you never really know in the fight game.