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And Now He’s Retired: Anthony “The Hippo” Perosh Hangs ‘Em Up at 43 Years Old

(via Getty)

I’ve always been a bit of an oddball MMA fan when it comes to picking my “favorite” fighters. While respecting the otherworldly athleticism of a Jon Jones, the otherworldly physique of a Alistair Overeem, or the otherworldly riddum of a Georges St. Pierre, I would never list any of those guys in even my top 10 favorites. What can I say? Being a fan of Jon Jones (the fighter, at least) is just too easy for an anti-establishment renegade like myself — like being a Lakers fan in the early aughts or a Patriots fan ever.

This is all a way of saying that I always found myself drawn to fighters who were more, well, human. I’m talking about the “everymen” of the sport — the guys who started off on the coveted bar fighting circuit or doing a little training on the side before finding out that they had some translatable skills to bring to the game. I’m talking about your old school, cornfed, perpetually 40-year-old-looking dudes who may have never been a champion, but always made sure to 1) show up and 2) turn in a memorable, fan-pleasing performances. I’m talking about your Jeremy Horns, your Chris Lytles, and your Anthony Peroshes.

Which is why I’m both saddened and relieved to learn that, following a pair of tough first round losses to Sean O’Connell and Gian Villante, “The Hippo” will be hanging up his gloves for good.

In a statement released on his website last night, Perosh reflected on his up-and-down career with the vigor and optimism of a man half his age, writing.

I’m retiring from fighting in MMA. I‘ve had a great career in MMA spanning 12 years, 25 fights, 15 wins & 5 wins in the UFC all by stoppage and 3 by Rear Naked Choke. I always went out for the win by stoppage and I am proud of what I have achieved in my career.

I am 43 years old (young!) and I told myself I would retire if I either couldn’t keep up with the training, didn’t want it anymore or if I lost more than I won. The last fight camps were hard on me physically and mentally. I didn’t get the win and I knew straight after my last fight that I had had enough. I’m finishing with a UFC record of 5 wins and 4 losses in the Light Heavyweight division.

On the bright side I am retiring with all my mental bearings and apart from the usual wear and tear I am physically fit!

Having kickstarted his professional career a bit later than most of his counterparts — in November of 2003 at 30 years of age — Perosh rattled off 5 stoppage wins alongside one defeat before receiving his first call up to the big leagues. Despite losing back-to-back contests at UFC 61 and 66, Perosh’s unblemished finish rate in victory would be a constant that continued for the entirety of his mixed martial arts career.

Some 7 years and 5 wins later, Perosh would receive a second shot in the UFC, coming in as a late replacement opponent for former PRIDE Grand Prix champion Mirko Cro Cop on the main card of UFC 110.

The loss that Perosh suffered that night would be a violent one, but in it, “The Hippo” demonstrated the kind of stubborn grittiness that would define the latter half of his career. Even more incredible would be the then 38-year-old’s trio of victories over Tom Blackledge, Cyrille Diabate, and Nick Penner that followed (again, all by stoppage).

Perosh’s momentum would be quickly and brutally shut down in July of 2012, however, when he was blitzkrieged by Ryan Jimmo en route to a lightning fast knockout defeat. With the world ready to move past him, Perosh was then booked against former TUF 8 finalist and M-1 champion Vinny Magalhaes at UFC 163. In the lead-up to the fight, Magalhaes’ arrogance was on full display; the young Brazilian called Perosh an “old man” whose Jiu Jitsu “sucked” and stated that if he were to lost to the Australian black belt, he should probably be cut from the UFC.

The fight that followed, while brief, would undoubtedly be a defining moment in Perosh’s career.

From a 7-second loss to an emphatic, 14-second victory, Perosh arguably experience the greatest rebound performance of any fighter in UFC history. “The Hippo” briefly circled to his left and waited for the supposedly superior Jiu Jitsu fighter to charge in for a takedown, and when Magalhaes did exactly that (with zero setup whatsoever), Perosh connected with the first punch — and last necessary punch, if we’re being honest — of the fight. Magalhaes collapsed to the canvas, and from there, Perosh pounced, unleashing a stream of right hands that reawakened and KO’d Magalhaes a few times more before referee Mario Yamasaki could wave off the fight.

In his post-fight interview that night, Perosh admitted to “getting butterflies” in his stomach upon landing his first punch, which he credited to the hard work of his boxing coaches, before telling Magalhaes to “start looking for a new job.” It was a rare moment of smack talk from the typically reserved Perosh, made all the more effective by the hilariously karmatic ass-whooping it proceeded.

Another tough loss at the hands of Ryan Bader would follow at Fight Night 33, prompting Perosh’s critics to once again call for his retirement. Nevermind the fact that Perosh had managed to gut through the relentless, ground-n-pound onslaught of a current title contender for three rounds without ever giving in at 40+ years of age; clearly, this was a man with nothing left to offer. It was a memo that Perosh apparently didn’t receive before entering the cage his next fight again heralded up-and-comer Guto Inocente, who he would similarly dismantle inside of a round.

In his past couple fights, however, it appears that time has finally caught up to the 43-year-old, who looked a few steps behind the pace of things in his aforementioned losses to O’Connell and Vilante. As he said following his win over Magalhaes, Perosh would only compete until “he didn’t feel he had it in him” anymore, and as a huge fan of the guy, I’m personally glad to see that he’s come to that revelation sooner rather than later. You know, relatively speaking.

You can read Perosh’s full statement over on his website, but for now, let’s all flood his Twitter with our congratulations and thanks to a true pioneer of Australian MMA. Thanks for the memories, Anthony.

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