Larger-than-life, controversial MMA star Bob Sapp retires at age 40

Bob Sapp (right) throws a right hand against sumo wrestler Akebono -- in a fight he actually won.


Bob Sapp has tapped for the final time.

The controversial MMA and kickboxing legend (?) is hanging up the gloves for good at the age of 40, he announced on Submission Radio over the weekend. The larger-than-life former PRIDE and K-1 star "competed" as a pro in combat sports for the last 12 years.

Sapp, though, was always more entertainer than athlete. He developed a cult following in Japan based on his sheer size (6-foot-5 and 350 pounds), charisma and booming baritone voice. Sapp (11-18-1) had victories early in his career over some serviceable fighters, but has drawn more attention the last few years for being MMA’s version of a jobber.

"The Beast" lost his last 12 MMA fights stretching back to 2011, all by finish. Only one made it out of the first round. In kickboxing, Sapp lost 13 of his last 14 bouts and the only win in that time came in 2012 when Tofan Pirani hurt his leg kicking him at an event in Abu Dhabi.  

Was he taking dives? He’s never confirmed it, but he’s rather unapologetic about being embarrassed dozens of times in two different combat sports in many fights that lasted under a minute. All 12 of those losses came in different countries.

Bob Sapp on "The Tonight Show" with Jay Leno in 2003.

Being brought in to lose to dozens of different opponents apparently has netted Sapp quite the profit. He told Submission Radio that he made more than $1 million last month alone and that he has $10 million saved from fighting, endorsements and smart investing.

"Am I throwing these fights? No," Sapp told Ariel Helwani on "The MMA Hour" in 2012. … "I will receive no damage to my body that will be long lasting for a small insignificant amount of cash. I think we’ve seen that now with examples with the NFL and the fact that some of these guys are coming back and saying, ‘Hey we want some money, we have brain damage.’ I’m getting paid well underneath what a professional boxer would, or Manny Pacquiao. So I will, in no means ever, will I sustain long-lasting damage for a small paycheck. Never will that happen, never will ‘The Beast’ ever have that happen."

Sapp will forever be remembered as a cult phenomenon, especially in Japan, where he starred in several commercials. The Colorado native was never boring, either in the cage or in odd tirades during interviews. Not a single one of his 30 MMA fights went to decision.

He wasn’t technical nor did he have any true MMA or kickboxing skills. But he was always memorable.

Sapp was a former NFL football player who was suspended in 1998 for alleged steroid use. After a short playing career, he was left destitute before becoming a pro wrestler, then kickboxer and MMA fighter. Sapp also appeared in movies like "The Longest Yard," "Elektra" and "Conan the Barbarian."

Now, he says he has $10 million in the bank. Regardless of how many times he has lost in a ring or cage, that has to be counted as a significant win, if true. Combat sports was clearly a means to an end for Sapp. And that end has come.