It’s always tough to see one of the good guys hang their gloves up. Somebody who didn’t take any shortcuts, who never took advantage of anyone, who put his nose to the grindstone and worked his ass off through injuries, losses, and victories. Cody Donovan is truly one of the good guys in mixed martial arts.
When you’re in a business long enough — in my case, mixed martial arts — you see a lot of things that kind of sour you on the whole experience. I’ve been somewhat jaded on the sport for some time. Don’t get me wrong, I still love fighting. I’m sure I always will. One of the things that has kept that love strong is watching genuinely good guys like Cody experience great success. I’ve been lucky enough to call him a friend since probably 2006 when the BJJ Boulder crew and the High Altitude crew (and a few others) began training together, forming what we called the “Colorado Top Team”. I think a couple of those nerds even got tattoos.
I was there for Cody’s first amateur fight in Vail (a sub-minute submission victory). I remember Ben Henderson losing to local Rocky Johnson on that same card. We got yelled at by the Colorado State Athletic Commission when they caught us slamming Guinness backstage at Ring of Fire 29, where we both experienced our first losses. We fought on the same card in February of 2008, when Cody won his first belt. I remember my wife and I losing it at a local bar watching Cody win his UFC debut in the middle of the day (on the one small screen they would dedicate to the UFC prelims). It’s truly been a pleasure watching Cody’s career from the beginning, and it’s bittersweet to see him move on from fighting.
I’ve fought many battles with Cody by my side, in the gym, in the ring, and in life. To one of the toughest dudes I know — here’s to enduring success in the rest of your life. The next beer’s on me.