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Yves Edwards: ‘I still love this game, but I willingly decide not to play anymore’

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

On Sunday, longtime MMA veteran Yves Edwards announced his retirement from fighting via his Facebook page. The 38-year old "Thugjitsu Master," who competed for 17 years and fought 66 times as a pro, wrote that he pained over the moment, but that ultimately it felt like the right time to hang up the gloves.

"Fighting has been a part of my life ever since I was 17 and that makes this a hard pill to swallow but it's time for me to end this chapter and move on to the next part of my life," he wrote. "So thank you again to all the people that have supported me through this, whether it was through cheers, training, coaching or anything else at all."

Edwards lost at UFC Fight Night 57 on Nov. 22 against Akbarh Arreola via first round submission. That capped a five-fight winless streak overall, which was kicked off at UFC 156 when he dropped a narrow split-decision to Isaac Vallie-Flagg. Having won only twice in his last nine UFC fights, Edwards felt he’d given the sport what he could and that he no longer wanted to detract from his accomplishments.

On Monday, the Bahamas-born fan favorite appeared on The MMA Hour to talk about his decision.

"Well, I’ve just been kind of thinking about it for a bit, especially after last week, and I was just trying to weigh things out," an emotional Edwards told Ariel Helwani. "My training camp felt really good, I had really good sparring sessions, had everything went really well -- the conditioning, the weight cut were easy…everything worked out well except fight night.

"I just don’t need to be doing this. I can still do those things in the gym, but like my last couple of performances I have just soiled the things that I’ve done in the past, and I don’t want to continue to dirty that more than I have."

Edwards said that he still loves to compete, but that he didn’t want to overstay his ability in the cage.

"I still want to [fight], but I have to be smart," he said. "I don’t want to be the guy that…I stuck around longer than I should, but I don’t want to be the guy who stuck around too long. The guy that’s fighting for a pay check, or the guy that is risking his health."

Edwards talked about a moment of lapsed time in his fight with Arreola in Austin, Texas, when he wasn’t sure how he ended up on the ground.

"As soon as I was fully conscious of what was going on, I don’t…I remember standing up from my butt, and [wondering] how in the hell did I get knocked down -- like, what the hell? And then I don’t remember…I remember my leg being caught in the air. I haven’t really watched it, but I remember my leg being caught in the air and remember being in an armbar thinking I was in practice.

"And then as soon as I was coherent, I said, ‘I think I’m done.’"

Edwards sustained himself for nearly two decades in the fight game by being both smart and opportunistically aggressive. Throughout a career that spanned time in EliteXC, Bellator, Shine, KOTC, Moosin, Bodog, Pride and several stints in the UFC, Edwards had many memorable fights.

While on the MMA Hour, he cited his fights with Aaron Riley from the HOOKnSHOOT days in 1999 and 2001 as memorable. Asked why, he said because Riley could "take it and I liked dishing it out." Edward scored victories over Hermes Franca, Rich Clementi and Josh Thomson in his career, and finished with a record of 42-22-1-(1), going 10-10-(1) in the UFC.

Over the course of time, Edwards became a fan favorite for not only his style of fighting, but for being a character in the game. He would commonly show up to the scale at weigh-ins eating a candy bar and/or wearing superhero underwear. He also detailed at one point how a zombie apocalypse was a realistic possibility.

Edwards said that with the fight game being his identity for so long, it took him several days to form the two-paragraph retirement announcement that he posted.

"It took me since Tuesday of last week," he said. "At that point I made a decision that I can’t do this anymore. I want to, but I shouldn’t. And if I’m going to leave behind any kind of legacy all I’m going to do is tarnish it or not really add to it at this point. Because I don’t really know how many fights I have left in me, honestly. I don’t feel like I can’t do it a bunch more times, but my last performance is the most disappointing of all of them. All I’ve ever wanted to be able to do was perform. Show that I know what I’m doing, and show that I’m capable of doing this, and everything else will work itself out.

"So, I don’t know. It sucks so bad. I still love this game, but I willingly decide not to play anymore."

Asked if he had prepared for his retirement, Edwards got emotional.

"I thought I was," he said. "But, I didn’t expect it to feel like this. I knew that some day it was going to end, but…it’s like if you’re at a good movie, and you’re really into it…and you realize, this sh*t is really good but it’s going to end at some point. And it’s kind of like that. It’s an extreme variation of that."

Edwards said that he would continue to be involved in MMA, especially within the coaching realm.

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