UFC: Ricardo Almeida Announces His Retirement from MMA

Jordan ReimerContributor IMarch 31, 2011

After an 11-year career that has spread from Pancrase to Pride to, most recently, the UFC, the "Big Dog" has called it a career.

Under his coach and mentor, Renzo Gracie, Almeida amassed a 6-5 record with the UFC.

Almeida has previously taken a four-year break from fighting where he focused on teaching and running his jiu jitsu academy in New Jersey.  However, this time things seem different.

After his 18-fight mixed martial arts career, he is truly ready to call it quits.

Here's what he had to say about his decision to retire (via NewJerseyJiuJitsu.com)

"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 percent.

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.

Ricardo Almeida."

As Almeida is gone from competition, his grappling and fighting skills will live on for years to come, through his students.