Unless a big offer is thrown at his direction, longtime MMA heavyweight Gabriel Gonzaga is retired from mixed martial arts.
A former UFC heavyweight title contender, Gonzaga told MMA Fighting on Wednesday that his plans for the future don’t include competing in MMA anymore. "Napao" fought the last fight of his contract with the UFC in April, losing to Derrick Lewis in Zagreb, Croatia.
"I don’t plan on coming back," Gonzaga said. "I’m taking care of my new gym, Squared BJJ. If I get an offer, it has to be a great offer, or I’ll keep competing in jiu-jitsu against people my age. I’m probably retired already. I will only fight again if there’s a good offer, financially speaking, and I don’t think any promotion wants me."
With a 17-11 record in the sport, which includes wins over the likes of Mirko Cro Cop and Ben Rothwell, "Napao" would only start another training camp if offered a six-figure check. If no one offers him that kind of money, he’s back full-time to his days as a jiu-jitsu competitor.
"I don’t fight for less than 100 thousand dollars," he said. "I’m 37 years old and I won’t risk my health or waste my time training and suffering for this. I don’t need it anymore. God gave me a good opportunity in life, and I don’t need this anymore. That would be my number. For less than 100 thousand, I wouldn’t step into a ring anymore."
Gonzaga competed under the UFC banner from 2005 to 2016, and watching the recent changes in the sport have altered the way he sees the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
"The UFC is more like a show than a fight sport now," Gonzaga said. "[Conor] McGregor is the biggest example. I’m embarrassed to be in a sport where McGregor is the biggest idol. If you wouldn’t like your son to be like the biggest idol in your sport, there’s something wrong with it. And I don’t believe anyone would like to have a son like McGregor."
"Sports are made to create examples to the society as a whole," he continued. "If that’s the example, someone that talks trash about people or an entire community, he become the example for the young generation entering the sport, they will want to be like this idol. If that’s the idol, I don’t want my son fighting MMA anymore and behaving like that."
If this is it for his mixed martial arts career, Gonzaga leaves as a happy man.
"Thank God I had a good run in this sport," "Napao" said. "I wasn’t the best in the world or became the champion in a big organization, but I was always there. I was a top 10 for almost a decade, I have the second-fastest knockout in the division, I have more than 20 fights in the biggest promotion in the world, and I believe I’m tied with Frank Mir with most finishes in the division. I had a good run. It could have been better, but it could have been worse, too."