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Nick Catone retiring after six years in the UFC due to lingering injuries

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Nick Catone will not be competing as scheduled at UFC on FOX 15 next month in Newark. And we have likely seen the last of the New Jersey native in the Octagon.

Catone has decided to retire from the UFC due to lingering injuries, mainly chronic back pain, he told MMAFighting.com on Tuesday. The 33-year-old attempted to get through camp for his bout against Vitor Miranda on April 18, but just couldn't do it. He felt like his back was only getting worse and refused to get the cortisone shots he had been taking over the years to ease his pain.

"I'm trying to play with my daughter on the floor and there's days I'm having a hard time getting up and I'm like, man," Catone said. "The stuff starts hitting you a little bit. There's more to it than just fighting."

Catone (10-4) has dealt with back issues for years, going back to a herniated disc when he was a Division I college wrestler at Rider. There have been a multitude of injuries recently, though, including eight surgeries. Catone tore his Achilles in 2011 and then tore his ACL last year during a split decision victory over Tom Watson at UFC 169. When he returned to training in September, he tore a tendon in his knuckle.

In all, Catone has fought just once since 2012 and just four times since 2010. He went to help Dan Henderson for his training camp for the Gegard Mousasi fight in January and felt pain in his back then. It didn't go away when he jumped into his own camp for Miranda.

"It's all those years of wrestling, being in a D-I room for five years and then training MMA," Catone said. "It's just a lot of things that have been adding up. I just don't feel like I can train the way I used to. It's not that I don't think I can make it to the fight, but it's like when you're so used to doing something for so long and then you try to change your ways, it can kind of mentally get to you, too. You can feel like you're not doing enough. You feel guilty because you take a day or two off because you need to recover. My body has just been taking a beating. I got other things I'd like to focus my time on. It's just time to step away."

Catone, a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu under Ricardo Almeida, opened up Nick Catone MMA & Fitness four years ago in his native Brick, N.J. Since then, he has opened up two other locations. The gym is thriving and he counts UFC fighters Corey Anderson and Frankie Perez as two of his instructors. Catone's teammates Frankie Edgar and Edson Barboza also stop by often.

With the gym doing well, Catone thought about retiring after the Watson fight, especially since it was in New Jersey. He also considered pushing through and retiring after facing Miranda in Newark. It just didn't work out that way.

Catone has one daughter and another on the way, so there are also family considerations.

"It's hard to come to terms with yourself," he said. "It's something I've been battling the last week or two in my head. I want to get in there, but my body is just telling me something. My family and friends see me in pain and trying to push through it. I think it's not fair to them to see me like this and to myself as well. I don't want to get in there at 60 percent. That's not the place for me to compete against the best guys in the world. It's not too smart to be getting in there like that."

Catone will step away with a 4-4 record in the UFC. He has notable wins over John Howard and ranked middleweight Costas Philippou. Catone didn't get to achieve all he wanted, but he appreciated the opportunity to compete in the UFC, on the biggest stage.

"It definitely wasn't an easy decision," he said. "It's hard to walk away, especially at the UFC level. It's the top of the food chain. I'm gonna miss getting in there and mixing it up with the best guys in the world. I've had a good run and a great ride. Things didn't fall my way. I've just had quite a bit of injuries that have slowed me down over the last couple of years and I wasn't able to be as active as I wanted to be.

"I'm gonna miss it. It's definitely gonna bum me out for some time, but I have to find some other ways to fill that void."

With a rib injury, Miranda was also pulled from the UFC on FOX card. According to the promotion, a replacement fight will be announced shortly.

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