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PFL executive Ray Sefo officially announces retirement from fighting

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Sixth Annual Fighters Only World Mixed Martial Arts Awards Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Ray Sefo thought about fighting again as recent as a few months ago. The longtime combat sports star and kickboxing legend gave himself a deadline: near the start of the Professional Fighters League season.

“If I didn’t fight again by May of this year, especially when the season starts, there’s just no time to put in a camp,” Sefo said Monday on The MMA Hour . “I thought come May, if nothing happens, then I’m done.”

Sefo is the president of fight operations for the PFL, which begins in earnest June at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York. The executive, who also coaches at Xtreme Couture in Las Vegas, said he has no fight lined up — so that’s it. He’s officially retiring from competition after 30 years.

Sefo, 47, said he has competed in 109 pro fights between kickboxing, boxing and MMA. He last competed in kickboxing in 2013, shortly after he fought for his own promotion — then called World Series of Fighting — in a second-round TKO loss to Dave Huckaba.

Sefo, who has nearly 60 wins in kickboxing, was a mainstay in K-1 it was at the height of its popularity. He has beaten the likes of Mark Hunt, Peter Aerts and Melvin Manhoef in kickboxing. In MMA, Sefo fought twice for Strikeforce. Sefo said “every single one” of his fights were his favorite and they all mattered. But the won with Hunt is what stands out the most.

In 2001, Sefo beat Mark Hunt by unanimous decision at the K-1 World Grand Prix in Fukuoka, Japan. At the time, Hunt was considered one of the top heavyweight kickboxers in the world.

“The one that sticks out is Mark Hunt,” Sefo said. “Everybody talks about that fight.”

Sefo said he still feels good enough to get in the ring or cage. He said he was recently training with a pro fighter at Xtreme Couture and the fighter said he “felt old.” Sefo said he asked him how old he was and he responded that he was 27.

“I said, ‘I feel like I’m 27, but I’m 47,’” Sefo said. “He felt worse.”

Between coaching and the PFL, which will have a regular season, playoffs and championship in multiple divisions this year, Sefo said he has plenty on his plate and he doesn’t regret how things have ended up.

“I thank God every day that I get to do what I love to do and what I’m passionate about,” Sefo said. … “Back then I never really saw myself sitting here. But I can tell you that I thank the good lord every day that I do what I do.”