Brian Ebersole will likely call it a career. | Photo: Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Getty
Brian Ebersole has been in 70 professional mixed martial arts bouts over the past 15 years, but after suffering the first technical knockout loss of his professional tenure, the 34-year-old “Bad Boy” is calling it a career.
Ebersole was unable to get off his stool for the second round of his welterweight clash against Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Night "Boetsch vs. Henderson" at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans on Saturday night. A hard inside leg kick to Ebersole’s right knee appeared to seal his fate, as the Tiger Muay Thai representative decided he was unable to continue after the first frame.
“I'm old; everything hurts,” Ebersole said. “[A] lifetime of wrestling takes a toll on you, getting your head pulled, knees banged up. I'm going to leave it to the young guys now. That's it for me.”
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Saturday marked Ebersole’s first Octagon appearance since a split-decision triumph over John Howard at UFC 178 this past September. The veteran said he had designs at competing on the UFC 193 card set for Melbourne on Nov. 15, but after the loss to Akhmedov, Ebersole said his body had other ideas.
“Most of the first round it was a bit tough springing back and forth, and once I knew I couldn’t move it was just kind of one of those things,” he said. “Getting back to the corner, [it was] risk-reward you know? I’m getting old; I’m getting up there. I planned on retiring in November after the fight in Melbourne, but we’ll call it a night tonight.”
Ebersole’s ailment wasn’t something that just happened during the fight, however. Instead, he said he was having injury issues throughout the latter half of his camp.
“I’ve had obviously a long career in MMA, a long career in wrestling. This thing’s been bugging me a bit through camp,” he said. “I sent an email to the UFC probably three weeks into my camp letting them know I’ve seen a [chiropractor] and a [physiologist] about it. Same with my neck and lower back…just lingering stuff. The last couple weeks, as you try to go harder, things start to flare up. I’ve been very much bipolar in my training camp the last three weeks….It’s been a hard camp.”
With that in mind, it simply didn’t make sense for Ebersole to try and make it through one more fight, despite his ties Down Under. An Illinois native, Ebersole now calls Australia and Thailand home.
“I couldn’t gut it out tonight, so why gut it out another time? I had a pretty rough camp,” Ebersole said. “The stress of just worrying about being healthy and worrying about your performance – too much. I’ve come a long way. I’ve kind of cheated the system. I’ve been a wrestler my whole life and once I couldn’t wrestle this is the thing I turned to. I extended it another 15 years. I can gracefully hang it up and call it a day. The last couple fights I had to tough it out.”
Ebersole exits the sport with a career record of 51-17-1, including a 5-3 mark in the UFC. He had stints in numerous other organizations as well, notching victories over the likes of Chris Lytle, Dennis Hallman, Carlos Newton, Matt Horwich, Dylan Andrews and Emanuel Newton in the process. When reflecting on his lengthy MMA tenure, Ebersole is proud of how long he was able to stick around.
“I was a pretty decent wrestler but I never had the accolades of some of these guys that you see, the Koschecks, the Cormiers. To be able to have a very successful MMA career, to get through as many fights as I did -- especially early on -- without getting beat up [is what stands out],” he said. “We see it now where guys have two or three fights and that’s enough. You see it where guys have one fight and don’t come back.
“So to be able to push through and fight karate guys, fight boxers, fight big scary heavyweights and get through that and actually get to where it turned to an art instead of a fight -- to be able to do that caterpillar-to-butterfly thing -- that was pretty cool.”