UFC middleweight fighter Rafael Natal has announced that he’s decided to retire from the sport at the age of 34.
“I came here today to announce my retirement from MMA,” Natal said on ‘The MMA Hour’ show. “It was the toughest walk in today to your studio because it is hard to make this announcement, but I talked to my family, my friend, my coaches. That is the time. I have new focus in my career as a coach, so that’s the (right) thing to do in the moment.
“It’s very hard, you know? It was a long journey. I love MMA, I love training, cutting weight, but I had some surgeries before. I’m focused on that 100% in my life, doing this 15 years, so it’s time to step back. My mom asked me this a long time ago, and that was a hard decision, but that’s what we have.”
‘Sapo’s’ career spans 12 years and he’s been competing in the UFC since 2010, during which time he put together a 9-7-1 record in the Octagon.
His best spell in the promotion saw him put together a four-fight winning streak between September of 2014 and January of 2016, defeating a series of notable fighters like Uriah Hall, Tom Watson, Chris Camozzi and Kevin Casey.
However, since then the Brazilian has suffered a slump in form, losing his next three fights in a row against Robert Whittaker, Tim Boetsch and Eryk Andrews, with the last two coming by way of knockout.
As such, perhaps now is a good time for Natal to hang up his gloves and focus on his future outside of the cage.
“I just opened a huge school in Brazil now and plan to open here in New York too,” Natal revealed, while adding that he also plans to compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu next year.