UFC fighter Leah Letson has announced her retirement from the sport at the relatively young age of 30, revealing that she had fallen out of love with the sport.
Letson had originally joined the UFC via The Ultimate Fighter reality show in 2018 after fighting her way to the semi-finals. At the time Letson had a 4-1 record and improved on that with a split decision win over Julija Stoliarenko in her promotional debut.
However, Letson then underwent a physical and mental struggle that kept her out of action for the next three years, before she finally returned to action in November of 2021, suffering a TKO loss to Felicia Spencer.
Letson was due to fight Chelsea Handler in October, but pulled out for personal reasons and a few months later has now opted to hang up her gloves.
Read Letson’s full statement on why she’s retiring from the sport below.
“It is with mixed emotions I am announcing my official #retirement from MMA,” Letson announced in a statement. “Although it is somewhat sad to say goodbye to the sport that has been a part of me for so long, it is something that I have been thinking about for a while, and know I need to do. I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish: I made it to the biggest #MMA stage in the world with the #UFC. I was even able to compete on The Ultimate Fighter show. At my peak, I was ranked #9 in the world and I am proud to have had a successful career. However, it is important to know when to hang it up. For me, that time is now.
“When I first started the sport, I had such a strong passion and love for MMA that I was willing to do whatever it took to be successful. After years of over-training, under-eating and enduring emotional abuse, I developed such severe health issues that I almost died. It took 3 whole years of extreme dedication to my doctor’s orders and countless medical bills to get my health back on track. I was able to overcome and accomplish not just getting myself to a normal level of healthy again, but I was able to get myself back into fighting shape and endure an entire fight camp. It was at that point, I knew I was getting burned out on the sport, but I had to prove to myself and the world that I could do it. I did. After 3 years of struggling, I stepped into the cage with the former title contender and I held my own. Though it wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, I was so proud of myself for overcoming huge mental and physical hurdles and #fighting again.
“After that fight, I feel have nothing more to prove to myself, and most importantly, I simply don’t love fighting the way I used to. Fighting is just as much mental as it is physical; therefore, if you’re head isn’t in it anymore, fighting can be a real dangerous sport. I have no regrets. Martial Arts will always be a part of who I am, but I will no longer be fighting for a living.
“I want to thank all of my dedicated fans that have supported me for so long. I hope that you continue to follow me and my story. I know God has great plans for me!”