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According to our pals over at UFC.com, Antoni Hardonk has retired from the sport of MMA. Given that his last fight took place over a year-and-a-half ago, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, nor will it impact the heavyweight rankings, but it’s always slightly unpleasant to officially scratch any name off of the organization’s shallowest division.
Hardonk brought his K1-experience to the UFC in late 2006, knocking out Sherman Pendergarst out in the first round of their fight at UFC 65. From there he found mixed results, going 4-4 under the Zuffa banner. His final two fights were losses to fellow stand-up standouts Cheick Kongo and Pat Barry, the latter battle earning him the “Fight of the Night” bonus.
Hardonk was best known for his brutal leg kicks and for thwarting robberies before thwarting robberies was cool, but just because he won’t be climbing in the cage again doesn’t mean he’s stepping away from the sport. It’s his new found love of coaching that has pulled him away from competing himself:
“At the end of 2009, I wasn’t happy with the way things were going, but I didn’t want to give up on fighting. I love fighting and I love competing. I love to go out there and test myself against the best in the world, and it’s a great lifestyle. You only have to worry about yourself, you can be pretty selfish at times (Laughs), and I’m very passionate about the sport. So at first, it wasn’t on my mind to quit fighting. But I also always loved teaching and I think I have a natural ability for it and I’m always trying to help people. And if there’s something I’m good at, like fighting, I love to share and help people accomplish their goals. I think it’s something I always had in me, but I put it away because I put myself first and I wanted to enjoy this lifestyle and fight and compete and test myself. But taking that year off and focusing more on that other side and that teaching and coaching aspect of myself, I found that I get as much satisfaction from that as from fighting itself.”
So far his coaching career is off to a solid start. Dynamix MMA student Jared Hamman has won his last two fights while earning “Fight of the Night” bonuses and pupil Vladimir Matyushenko has scored two consecutive first round KO’s.