UFC Lightweight Jamie Varner Retires After 11-Year Career

December 14, 2014
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There comes a time when every professional athlete must walk away from the sport they’ve dedicated their lives to. After an eleven-year mixed martial arts career, that time came on Saturday for lightweight Jamie Varner after losing four consecutive fights in the UFC.

Varner made his professional MMA debut in March 2003 at Rage in the Cage 46. Three years later, he’d make his first appearance in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He went 1-1 inside the Octagon, but the organization cut the 155-pound division. Varner then found a home in World Extreme Cagefighting.

His biggest career highlight was winning the WEC lightweight championship at WEC 32 in February 2008 by knocking out Rob McCullough.

When Varner was one top of his game mentally and physically, he was a difficult match-up for anyone in the lightweight division. He lost his WEC title to future UFC champion Benson Henderson at WEC 46 in January 2010.

The WEC was purchased by the UFC in 2006 and eventually dissolved into the bigger organization in December 2010. Varner was not one of the WEC fighters brought over to the UFC roster. It was a hard pill to swallow for the Arizona native.

He fought in regional shows and eventually earned his way back to the biggest venue in MMA at UFC 146 in May of 2012. He entered his UFC return against Edson Barboza as a heavy underdog. But as they say, every dog has his day.

Varner showed his true potential in the fight, knocking out the much higher ranked Barboza in the opening round. It was the comeback story of the year. Looking back on it, Varner ranked the win over Barboza up there with winning the WEC title.

In his next outing, Varner was submitted by Joe Lauzon late in a fight that he was likely winning. The back-and-forth battle earned the 2012 Fight of the Year by many MMA outlets.

He bounced back in his next fight at UFC 155 by defeating the always-dangerous Melvin Guillard by split decision. It was the last time Varner would taste victory.

Following his fourth consecutive loss, to Drew Dober at UFC on Fox 13 on Saturday, Varner removed his UFC gloves and left them on the Octagon canvas. After eleven years as a professional fighter, Varner’s career ended where it began. His mixed martial arts journey started out from Arizona, and that’s where it came to a close.

“I planned this a long time ago.  My family knew.  I knew this was going to be my last fight,” said Varner to his hometown crowd.  “I just can’t keep up with these young kids anymore.  I’m battling injuries all the time. It’s been an absolute dream.  I’ve been fighting here a long time.  It’s been an absolute dream.”

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  • Seth

    Damn…Im gonna miss him :/ One of the true warriors…he left a lot of health in rings and cages. Mad respect for him, wish him nothing but the best!

  • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

    I’ll always remember his fight with Cerrone being stopped in the last round cause Jamie was flopping around and literally crying because of an illegal knee . Varner was looking for a way out of the fight and found it in the cheapest way possible

    • Jay

      his retina was detached, it was also a 2-2 match at this time, not a blow out … for Jamie to continue a round that he needed to win the fight with only one eye under a specific contract that pays double to the man who wins. Varner kept fighting with a broken ankle, he never lays and prays in fights that he is up a clear 2-0 against an inferior wrestler. And has proven through his career, in a fight that he has 20+ sig strikes per round, 1 more takedown per round ending all of them in top control, submission attempts in 3 rounds, and has sustained more damaged. Hell, even if his opponent lost a point for low blow, if the fight had 3 seconds left, Varner ducks under a punch, and he can either step out of striking distance and win, or straighten up and throw 1 more punch that will land, but chances are, that at the same time he will be hit with a punch as well. Every time I have watched Varner, he has shown me that he throws that last punch and takes the risk because in his mind winning an mma competition isnt important beyond the $$$ aspect, its mportances comes far behind winning the actual fight (Spending the first 8 minutes stalling on the ground, while avoiding sub attempts from an active guard and getting punched from the bottom followed by being outstruck 50-15 in the last round means you win the match 29-28 and lose the fight, and though that was important, which came first in priority was finishing the fight/entertaining the fans. Id say that 3 of his 5 losses since he came back to the UFC were because he REFUSED to play it safe when 95% of fighters do it nows a days. If it was a boxing match, and Varner won all the first 11 rounds, outstruck his opponent 15-0 until there was 8 seconds left in the fight. His opponent hits him right on the jaw and backs him up on rubber legs. Athletes fall on their butt, stand up at the 8 count and no time left in the fight, and tell the ref he is ok; fighters put their gloves up and do their best not to get knocked down or hit again, warriors are STILL trying to finish the fight and if they were knocked down, ten count starts with 9 seconds left in 12th, well, they get up within two seconds, fake it the best they can, and start swinging even if they cant see whats in front of them. Thats Varner …. Vitali Klitchko lost twice in his career, a cut that the ref stopped in a fight he was up 6 rounds to 1 or something, and he decided to throw the towe in after he tore his rotator while dominating all 9 rounds, each more serious than the last. He could have played rope a dope for the last three rounds, especially with that tie up and stall style he has, but he is a warrior, and warriors like Vitali and Varner dont fight like that. The ref wouldnt let him fight because he couldnt see, and even if it was the other way around, the knee was illegal, tore varners retina and the doctor would have just been fucking up by not letting him go on.

      • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One

        youre just making my point that he lost

      • Shartnado2, the Sloppy One


  • John Youwer

    Should have retired about 2 years ago.