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2012 MMA crystal ball: Where are these 34-somethings 12 months from now?

Steve Cofield

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Retirement is inevitable for every athlete. Whether it's voluntary or forced is up to the athlete. In fighting, it's too often forced. There's no exact age or time. Some guys have to walk away in their early 30's, others like the incredible Randy Couture, make it into their late 40's.

The end of the 2011 was unkind to several legends of MMA who are past their 34th birthdays. As a result, their careers are gasping for their last breath of air.

In 2012, we could see the end of the road for Tito Ortiz, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira and Matt Hughes. Then there's Brock Lesnar.

He's not a legend, but he is the pay-per-view king of the sport and yet his future could be in question following UFC 141. Lesnar has battled serious health issues and after his loss to Cain Velasquez 15 months ago, many question his passion for the sport.

During our "The MMA Insiders" show on ESPN1100/98.9 FM in Las Vegas, Yahoo! Sports' Kevin Iole, MMA analyst Frank Trigg and myself talked about who will be standing at the end of 2012.

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