After a unanimous decision loss to Dakota Cochrane on Saturday night at Titan Fighting Championships 20, Varner said via Twitter that he intends to retire from mixed martial arts.
Varner left the Titan cage bloodied after a 30-27 sweep by Cochrane, who took the fight on just two days notice, and moments later Tweeted his announcement. But a little while later, the Tweet was removed from Varner's timeline.
"I gave fighting another shot I need 2 thank u guys 4 ur support! But I just don't have it anymore. Love u all but ull never c me fight again," Varner said initially on Twitter before the message was removed, indicating the fighter may have reacted rashly after his loss to Cochrane, a heavy underdog in the fight.
A message left for Varner by MMA Fighting seeking comment was not immediately returned.
Varner (17-6-1, 2 NC) now has just one win in his last six fights, a submission of Tyler Combs in Jeff Curran's XFO promotion in May. That was his first bout after being cut from Zuffa and the WEC last December, and it came in a temporary move to welterweight.
Varner won the WEC lightweight title against Rob McCullough at WEC 32 in February 2008 and defended it twice against Marcus Hicks and Donald Cerrone. The Cerrone fight was a split decision that ended because of an illegal knee from Cerrone – and touched off one of the most heated rivalries in MMA history.
But injuries suffered in that fight kept Varner out for nearly a year. And once he returned, it's been mostly downhill.
Varner lost his WEC lightweight title to Ben Henderson at WEC 46 in January 2010. He returned six months later, but settled for a draw with Kamal Shalorus. And in a highly anticipated rematch with Cerrone, he was dominated in a 30-27 sweep.
Varner then took a fight with Shane Roller at WEC 53, the final show in the promotion's history – and in his backyard in Glendale, Ariz. But he was submitted in the first round and Zuffa cut him loose.
Varner started his career 11-1 with a pair of no contests, mostly in his native Arizona, before signing with the UFC in 2006. His UFC debut was a submission loss to Hermes Franca at UFC 62. At UFC 68, Varner submitted Jason Gilliam, then signed with the WEC, where he would win the lightweight belt in his second fight in the promotion.