has no regrets. It's been a long ride, and maybe some things didn't turn out like he planned, but after more than a decade as a professional fighter there's not much he would do differently.
"I've had my great adventures
," Carter told MMA Fighting. "I went to Tiananmen Square, just because I was there. I was on the Great Wall before I knew ya'll. You know? I fought in Tokyo. I wrestled a bear in Russia. It's been beautiful."
But now it's over, according to Carter. After a decision loss to Jeremy Knafo in Tel Aviv, Israel
earlier this month, "Mr. International" decided to hang up the gloves. So he says. Now he has a new venture in mind.
"I want to go to the WWE," Carter said. "I've talked to CM Punk about it. He works out at my gym. ...I'm coming to acknowledge the mid-life crisis that a lot of guys go through where they get a Corvette and a hot blonde girlfriend with big boobs. I've just decided to do the WWE."
And before you ask, yes, he's serious. At least he claims he is, though with Carter it's sometimes difficult to tell what's sincere and what's schtick. Still, this is one he's not backing away from. At 38 years old, Shonie Carter wants to become a pro wrestler. He even has a stage name picked out.
"Overtime, that will be my name. Overtime, because I work hard. I put that hard hat on, I bring a lunchbox, and I punch in. If you get in that ring with me, you better punch in too, because you're going to be working overtime."
Give him credit for this much, he has the mic skills. Carter has always talked a good game, even in recent years when his performances in the cage didn't quite measure up.
That's why he's decided to call it quits, he said. After suffering five straight losses in promotions from Australia to Israel to a recent Bellator event in his hometown of Chicago, the time came to face some difficult conclusions.
"I'd been thinking about it," Carter said. "It's just, I'm fed up with decision losses. I'm tired of younger fighters building their credibility on my name."
But coming from a guy like Carter, who by his own admission knows "nothing else," how seriously are we supposed to take this retirement proclamation?
"It's about a 90 percent or 95 percent chance I'm done," he said. "Matter of fact, [an organization in] Costa Rica offered me a world title fight. Then I thought about and decided, I've had five losses in a row. I don't want to be fighting for a title with five losses in a row. What does that say about the state of things? I've had world titles before. I want to do something else."
However, that's not to say he couldn't be talked into a return, Carter admits. That is, if the conversation is lucrative enough.
"If you even get an inkling of a rumor that I'm about to fight again, I'll tell you this: it's going to be financially worth it. I've paid my dues. I don't need to keep beating my body up for the mere pittance I was getting offered."
If he never fights again, Carter said, he can live with it. It will take some getting used to, and he'll miss it, but that's the way it goes. He'd like to be remembered as a pioneer and an innovator, but realistically he knows it will probably be "that damn spinning backfist" that fans remember him for. That, and the speedos, the suits, the antics. And that's okay, he said.
"I can't let it bother me. I got into martial arts not to get famous. I started this journey to stay out of trouble. A lot of guys get into MMA now just to get paid and get on TV. Some guys just care about the TV. I did it as a means to stay out of trouble and then found out I could get paid. I had a kid on the way, was a black man with an art degree in Chicago. What are the chances I'd be able to make a living some other way?
"I can't regret it. I never made $1.6 million to fight like some champions we know about. No, I did not get a Harley-Davidson. I don't get to drink Gatorade for free. I don't get to train in free Under Armour shirts. I don't even have a magazine cover. I'll never forget what MMA is or what it has done for me. I'll do whatever I can for it to help the next generation. I'll still train and I'll still coach."
In fact, Carter said, now that he's got some extra time on his hands, he's even offering MMA fans a chance to train with him for free at Keller's Martial Arts
in Chicago. At least, it's free for the first week.
"After that," he said, "they got to pay."