Thirty-five-year-old Dutch kickboxer and UFC vet Antoni Hardonk (8-6) has fought inside the Octagon for the last time.
The heavyweight opened his own gym in Spring 2010 in California and has become very involved in training and coaching fighters, including UFC light heavyweight Vladimir Matyushenko, who last weekend, with Hardonk in his corner, scored a very impressive first round knockout of Jason Brilz at UFC 129.
Hardonk explained how his shift of interest from fighting to coaching led to his decision to retire:
“Fighting is a full-time job. It’s not something you can do on the side, and I didn’t want to do things halfway. I didn’t want to run my gym halfway and I didn’t want to train for a fight halfway. If I go into the Octagon, I want to be the best Antoni Hardonk ever and I want to surprise people with my new skills and I want to show a better version of me. And I felt that that was going to be difficult, so I thought about it for a while, and then I pulled the trigger and decided that I love teaching and coaching. It’s something that I’d like to focus on now and in the future.”
Hardonk began his pro MMA career in 2001 in the Rings organization in Holland. He went 4-2 before signing with the UFC in 2006.
In Hardonk’s first UFC fight he stopped Sherman Pendergarst with leg kicks at 3:15 of the first round. However, he lost his next two, both in 2007, to Justin McCully and Frank Mir.
Hardonk bounced back in 2008 with three straight TKO wins over Colin Robinson, Eddie Sanchez, and Mike Wessel, and showed he was possibly ready to take that next step up in competition.
That proved not to be the case though as Hardonk was stopped by Cheick Kongo via second round TKO at UFC 97 in April 2009, and then stopped again via second round TKO by Pat Barry at UFC 104 in Oct 2009.
He and Barry won “Fight of the Night” honors for their performance, but it would be Hardonk’s final fight.
From 2000-2005, in addition to his MMA career, Hardonk went 5-5 as a professional kickboxer. His most notable bouts were against Remy Bonjasky and Badr Hari, although he lost both bouts via unanimous decision.