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ONE champion Roger Gracie retires from MMA

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Roger Gracie leaves the sport with a 8-2 record.
Esther Lin, Showtime

Three months after retiring from jiu-jitsu, Roger Gracie has decided to hang up his MMA gloves as well.

Gracie competed in MMA for the last time in May 2016, when he submitted Michal Pasternak in the first round to claim the vacant ONE Championship light heavyweight belt. The jiu-jitsu ace leaves the sport with a 8-2 record.

“I decided to stop because I didn’t think MMA was motivating me enough to keep dedicating myself 100 percent to an athlete’s life,” Gracie told MMA Fighting. “I enjoyed it, it was a huge pleasure to do these 10 MMA fights, but I have no other ambitions. I just turned 36. I never wanted to compete longer than 38, and there’s not much else left to conquer in MMA, something that would change my career.

“I just ended my career at a high level. I would have more to lose than to gain if I kept fighting MMA. If I had the same passion in MMA like I had in jiu-jitsu I would continue, but the only motivation that would keep me in MMA was money, and I’m against doing something focusing only on money. I don’t think I’d even give my 100 percent in this case, so I decided to retire and focus on other things in my life."

The news of Gracie’s retirement was first reported by MMA debate.

Roger Gracie submitted Marcus 'Buchecha' in Rio de Janeiro.
Guilherme Cruz, MMA Fighting

The 36-year-old Brazilian, arguably the greatest competitor in jiu-jitsu history, won 10 IBJJF world titles and three ADCC titles (two gold medals in 2005 and one superfight title in 2007). He retired from jiu-jitsu competition after choking out Marcus "Buchecha" Almeida at Gracie Pro in July.

Right after his win over “Buchecha”, Gracie told MMA Fighting he would go after a second belt at ONE Championship. He said the promotion had agreed to give him a shot at the middleweight belt, but he recently informed the company of his retirement.

Gracie started his MMA career in 2006, scoring back-to-back submissions before signing with Strikeforce. He added a pair of submissions over Kevin Randleman and Trevor Prangley before suffering his first MMA defeat by the hands of "King Mo" Lawal.

The jiu-jitsu ace decided to cut down to middleweight in 2012, beating Keith Jardine and Anthony Smith under the Strikeforce banner before joining the UFC. Gracie lost a decision to Tim Kennedy in his first and only bout in the Octagon.

Gracie would return to action 17 months later, moving back up to the light heavyweight division and knocking out James McSweeney in his ONE Championship debut. After another long layoff, Gracie stopped Pasternak in what would become his final MMA bout.

“The most special fight for me was then I won the belt,” Gracie said. “It was a great fight, an excellent fight, and I won a belt. That’s something extra, more than just winning a fight. You’re the champion of that division, so it was a cool feeling."

“I'm super happy with my career,” he continued. “I've fought 10 fights, faced several great opponents, big names, and was able to put on excellent fights. It was a cool experience to fight MMA. It’s completely different from the jiu-jitsu I competed my entire life. It was a special feeling to follow the Gracie family’s path. I saw my cousins and uncles fighting MMA since I was a kid, and I knew that the Gracie path was to fight jiu-jitsu and MMA."

Roger Gracie will now focus on the growth of his jiu-jitsu team.