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UFC middleweight Rafael Natal retires from MMA

UFC 183: Natal v Watson Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

Longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) middleweight contender Rafael Natal, 34, recently announced his retirement from mixed martial arts (MMA), following three straight losses inside the Octagon.

Natal made his UFC debut way back in Sept. 2010, and though he got off to a rocky start, managed to compile an impressive 9-3 run from 2011-16, which included four straight wins and a spot in the top 15 of the division rankings.

Then game a dreadful 0-3 stretch and “Sapo” knew it was time, according to his conversation with The MMA Hour.

"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. Some circumstances brought me to it. I just opened a huge school in Brazil now and plan to open here in New York too. I'm coming from three losses now, the last two were really bad."

Natal was knocked out by the underhanded Eryk Anders at UFC on FOX 25 last July.

The Brazilian retires with a record of 21-9-1 but vows to continue competing in jiu-jitsu, where he holds a black belt under Vinicius “Draculino” Magalhaes. Natal is also a grappling instructor at the famed Renzo Gracie Academy in New York.

Happy trails.

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