Nick Denis, a UFC bantamweight known for his colorful nickname "The Ninja of Love" as well as a memorable 22-second knockout debut in the octagon, has decided to retire, he announced on his blog.
The move came as a surprise, as Denis, who was a PhD student in biochemistry at the University of Ottawa before giving up his scholarship to chase his mixed martial arts dreams, was still under UFC contract and is just 29 years old.
Denis had been 11-3 overall in his career, and 1-1 in the UFC.
On his blog, Denis, true to his scientific roots, cited his concern with his brain's health, particularly the potential damage caused by concussive and sub-concussive blows.
Denis said his apprehensions were raised after his first loss, a devastating knockout at the hands of Marlon Sandro in 2009. That led him to research concussions and he ultimately decided to retire after the next time he suffered one. While he was never medically diagnosed with another concussion, he began to be worried about all of the potential sub-concussive blows he endured on a regular basis.
"… I would notice that when I got hit, it would affect me more and more," he wrote. "When I first started sparring I would run through punches unaffected. Not only that, but now training at Tristar, I am literally training with the worlds best. We are all training at the highest level, all for the same reasons. Could I fight in the UFC, against the best fighters in our solar system, literally trained killers, without sparring in training? Not really, so what was I to do? I have made the decision to retire."
Denis made a memorable UFC debut in January when he knocked out Joseph Sandoval in 22 seconds with a series of standing elbows from the clinch. He returned in May against Roland Delorme, and after an exciting back-and-forth round, he was submitted via rear naked choke. Prior to his UFC tenure, he fought in Sengoku, once beating Seiya Kawahara via TKO.