Netherlands-born kickboxer/mixed martial artist Antoni Hardonk recently announced his retirement from competition in combat sports.
The heavyweight knockout artist recently spoke with UFC.com about his choice to focus his energy into coaching rather than his own fighting career, explaining that he was unhappy with his recent performances and that he fell naturally and comfortably into the role of coach/trainer when he moved from the Netherlands to Los Angeles and opened his own gym.
“Fighting is a full-time job,” said Hardonk. “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.”
To Hardonk, who began his career as a professional combat sportsman in 2000, coaching and training has been just as fulfilling as actually preparing for a fight and competing himself.
“At the end of 2009, I wasn’t happy with the way things were going, but I didn’t want to give up on fighting,” he said. “I love fighting and I love competing. I love to go out there and test myself against the best in the world, and it’s a great lifestyle. You only have to worry about yourself, you can be pretty selfish at times (Laughs), and I’m very passionate about the sport. So at first, it wasn’t on my mind to quit fighting. But I also always loved teaching and I think I have a natural ability for it and I’m always trying to help people. And if there’s something I’m good at, like fighting, I love to share and help people accomplish their goals. I think it’s something I always had in me, but I put it away because I put myself first and I wanted to enjoy this lifestyle and fight and compete and test myself. But taking that year off and focusing more on that other side and that teaching and coaching aspect of myself, I found that I get as much satisfaction from that as from fighting itself.”
Hardonk retires with a record of 8-6; his most recent appearance in the cage resulted in a second round knockout to Pat Barry, marking his second loss in a row.
One of Hardonk’s main students, Vladimir Matyushenko recently scored a first round knockout win over Jason Brilz at UFC 129.