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Retired Bethe Correia looks back on MMA as ‘psychological torture’

UFC Fight Night: Correia v Kianzad Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Bethe Correia is done with mixed martial arts (MMA).

The former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Bantamweight title challenger made her final walk to the Octagon in Oct. 2021, dropping a unanimous decision to Karol Rosa. A native of Campina Grande, Paraiba, Brazil, Correia started her career with nine straight victories before falling short in her lone title opportunity against Ronda Rousey at UFC 190 in Aug. 2015 (watch highlights). Correia went on to finish out her career with an 11-6-1 record.

Comfortably enjoying her post-combat days, Correia doesn’t reflect on the end of the road as fondly as she’d like to.

“I felt physically well, but I think it was more of the mental [aspect],” Correia told MMA Fighting when speaking about retirement. “A time comes when you can’t take it anymore. I think 90 percent of the athletes that stop fighting MMA do it because of the psychological pressure. We always think we can do it, that our bodies are conditioned to fight, but it’s such a psychological torture, it’s not fun anymore. When it gets to that point, MMA becomes a bit dangerous. You can have an irreversible injury.

“Training wasn’t pleasurable anymore,” she continued. “I couldn’t stand people demanding me [at a] high performance and doing everything perfect. I got more sad than happy [after training]. In the past, I saw it as a challenge. ‘I’ll be better tomorrow, I’ll train better tomorrow.’ Then I started going home sad, had no desire to train, and that’s bad. When you get to that point, it’s no longer pleasurable for you.”

Toward the end of her career, Correia, 38, suffered an eye injury that led to multiple canceled fight bookings and ultimately required surgery. She noted how regular training became worrisome when it came to protecting herself.

With all that in mind, it still might not be the end of “Pitbull’s” fighting days as she is open to mixing things up in the ring like many ex-MMA fighters have begun doing in recent years.

“I wanna compete, but not in MMA,” Correia said. “I’ve received many offers from boxing, but let’s all calm down (laughs). I just announced [my retirement from MMA]. Who knows, maybe I’ll compete somewhere, but MMA, [I’m done] forever.

“I’m not afraid of bare-knuckle boxing because of the UFC gloves, I always chose the smaller ones,” she concluded. “It’s nothing. I don’t think it changes much. I see girls leaving with their hands injured because there is nothing protecting [their knuckles], but I would also like to try traditional boxing, too. I would like that adventure. Who knows, maybe I’ll have fun on both. The best offer [wins]. I think that’s very interesting.”

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