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Aisling Daly explains ‘premature’ retirement, reflects back on MMA career

MMA: UFC Fight Night-Daly vs Almeida Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports

Aisling Daly is disappointed her MMA career has come to a sudden end, but considers herself lucky to be in one piece.

The Irish strawweight announced on Monday that she’s been forced to hang up the gloves after an abnormality was found in a recent brain scan. That abnormality was the remnant of a small hemorrhage that happened at some point between this recent scan and the one before, which according to Daly, was taken sometime after she fought Alex Chambers at The Ultimate Fighter 20 Finale back in December 2014.

That same day Daly announced her retirement, the 29-year-old SBG Ireland product went on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour to explain her situation, and reflect back on her 10-year MMA career.

“I got a brain scan that showed a small abnormality, and we can’t exactly pinpoint when the incident actually happened or anything like that, it was just in between scans,” Daly told Ariel Helwani. “I went in to get something else checked and my doctor suggested that my brain scan was coming up, so why not just do it ahead of time and get it checked anyways.

“It just showed a small abnormality, some random small brain hemorrhage that I got sometime between the previous scan and this scan. There was case that maybe I could continue to compete, but there was a lot more risk involved, you know. Maybe I could find a doctor that would medically clear me, but my own doctor said he wouldn’t medically clear me, and it would’ve been a case of finding a doctor that wouldn’t have as much concern for my health and maybe getting a them to sign me off. But to be honest, in the long run it didn’t seem worth the risk for me, you know what I mean.

“I feel like I got away lightly with a sprain injury that healed well, but I heard some really horrific stories of some people that have been in different sorts of accidents, whether it’s a construction or car accident, you know, usually hemorrhages leave a lot more damages than me, who I didn’t even know that I had a brain hemorrhage. I’m perfectly fine, it didn’t affect any of my mobility or speech, I’m perfectly healthy, so I got away really lightly. Seeing all these tragic incidents, I consider myself really lucky, and I’m really grateful of how things worked out.”

Although now retired from MMA, Daly will not completely walk away from the sport, as she plans on being involved in MMA to her fullest capacity. Daly, who recently got her black belt in jiu-jitsu, plans to continue coaching at SBG Ireland and helping fighters with their grappling since she now can’t spar or do much striking with her condition.

Daly is a bit disappointed her MMA career came to an end at this time, as she felt things were just starting to come together for her in the UFC. Yet, Daly is trying to focus on the positive side of this situation.

“MMA competition can only be a small aspect of your life, you can’t be 60 and still be trying to step inside an octagon and compete,” Daly said. “So you know, retirement was going to come down the pipeline anyway, it’s just a little bit premature, and to have it happen when I’m coming off such an emphatic win. I felt like a lot of stuff had come together in the game, you know, my cut to 115 had really come together, so it’s obviously disappointing to have it happen. But like I said, there is so much negativity I could focus on or I could just focus on the positives, that I’m still here chatting with you today instead of an unfortunate accident of an MMA fighter losing their lives or an MMA fighter losing their ability to live.”

Daly is considered a pioneer in women’s MMA in Europe, as her fighting career began in 2007. She now retires with a record of 16-6, and was able to compete for several recognized promotions such as Cage Warriors, Bellator, Invicta FC, and ultimately the UFC where she compiled a record of 2-1. Daly was also a cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 20, which debuted the women’s strawweight fighters in the UFC.

Out of all the memorable moments of Daly’s career, defeating Ericka Almeida in front of her home crowd at UFC Fight Night 76 in Dublin remains her favorite, and she’s happy that that fight marks the end of her career.

“I could’ve not asked for a better moment,” Daly said. “Somebody had said to me before, ‘how would you ideally plan your farewell fight,’ and like I could’ve not picked a better scenario. Everything came together the night of the fight, and it was just a perfect night for me. I would not change anything or make anything better, it really was the best night of my mixed martial arts career, even if I didn’t know it at the time, I couldn’t have planned anything better. I feel grateful that that happened, it was an amazing opportunity and I’ll remember that forever. I’m not going to have a moment like that in my life ever again, so at least I have that to look back on.”

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