By: Jamie Penick, MMATorch Editor-in-Chief
Longtime MMA veteran Ricardo Almeida is retiring from the sport of mixed martial arts following his loss to Mike Pyle at UFC 128 earlier this month.
The 34-year-old decorated Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter announced his decision late Wednesday on his Facebook page. Almeida compiled an 8-2 record during his first stint in the sport from 2000-2004, fighting in Pride and Pancrase in Japan as well as three bouts in the UFC. After a four year hiatus from the sport, Almeida returned to the UFC in 2008, and went 5-3 over eight fights since that return.
And though he’s leaving the sport as a fighter, he will continue on as a coach along with Renzo Gracie’s fight team in New Jersey. Here’s Almeida’s statement announcing his retirement:
“Back in 2008 I decided to return to MMA. Since then I have had the privilege of fighting eight times in the UFC. As a competitor I can think of no bigger thrill than to stand in the center of the octagon with my hands raised.
During these almost four years it has been a personal struggle to find balance between my fighting career, caring for my son who was diagnosed with autism soon after I signed a six-fight deal with the UFC, teaching at my growing Jiu Jitsu Academy and the family duties we all have.
MMA is a great sport but also physically and mentally unforgiving. It is a dangerous task to step in the octagon, specially if your focus is not at 100%.
After much deliberation since my fight at UFC 128 I have decided to step away from the sport as a fighter.
I will continue to fully support the UFC as a coach and of course as a big fan. I would like to thank Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White for their leadership and vision which brought the sport to new heights. I would also like to thank Joe Silva for giving me the opportunity to compete among the best martial artists in the world.
Renzo Gracie, Mark Henry, Frankie Edgar and all my teammates who I could not have gone through this challenge without.
Finally I would like to thank my wife, children and family as well as my students. You will have my integral dedication from here on.
Lastly the fans who make MMA the greatest sport there is.
Penick’s Analysis: Almeida had a lengthy career with some highly entertaining fights throughout his entire run. And though it means we won’t be able to see him compete inside the Octagon again, it is refreshing to see a fighter make the call on their own without being forced out by a number of consecutive knockouts. Outside of the submission loss to Matt Hughes last summer, Almeida was competitive in every fight in this latest UFC run, and could have still kept a spot on the roster if he wanted to compete. That said, if he feels this is the right move then good for him. Thanks go out to Almeida for providing us as fans entertaining fights throughout his career, and we wish the best of luck to him as a coach and family man moving forward.