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Glaico Franca announced retirement at PFL 7, but he’s already leaving door open for return

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Glaico Franca lost for the first time as a welterweight at PFL 7 in Las Vegas.
Ryan Loco, PFL

Glaico Franca announced his retirement from the sport — and proposed to his girlfriend Giuly — after losing his welterweight semifinal bout with David Michaud at PFL 7 on Friday. But he doesn’t rule out coming back to the sport in the future.

In fact, the TUF Brazil winner could even return to the cage this year.

Franca tells MMA Fighting he’d already planned to hang up his gloves after this season in the PFL. After taking way too much damage to the head in previous bouts, like in his wild title fight with Takashi Sato at Pancrase, and tough three-round battles with Michaud and Andre Fialho he decided it was time to step away.

“I got beat a lot in a few fights,” said Franca, who said he’s got a backup plan for MMA with a degree in physical education. “There are many different type of fighters. I’m not the most technical, and I’m not embarrassed to say that. I’ve evolved a lot as an athlete, and I’m definitely in my prime in terms of experience and conditioning, but it’s time.

“Making the cut to fight at lightweight was taking my desire to fight. After I fought (Gregor) Gillespie I said, ‘Man, I think I’ll stop fighting because of the weight cut.’ My love for fighting came back when I moved up to 170. I was happy again. But then I started getting bigger again, and now I cut almost as much as I did to fight at 155. I’m entering that zone when you feel like sh*t, you know? That helped me make this decision.”

Even though he still loves training and fighting, Franca says that today’s knowledge about head trauma and CTE helped him decide against continuing in the sport as a fighter. But he already admits it’s a decision he might walk back one day.

“Everything in life is a cycle, and this is one cycle coming to an end, but we don’t know what tomorrow will bring,” Franca said. “Nate Diaz — and I’m not comparing myself to him — was away for three years and came back with a great fight against (Anthony) Pettis. But, for now, that’s my decision. My cycle in fighting ends now, but we never know about tomorrow.

Ray Sefo told me I’m the No. 1 alternate at PFL, so if anything happens to (Michaud or Ray Cooper III) I wouldn’t mind stepping up and replacing them. I’ll continue training like if I’m in the final; I’ll train for two months in case something happens. I’ll be ready to do my best in there (if someone pulls out).”

In a sport where many fighters eventually come back from retirement, Franca doesn’t rule our being another example.

“Fighters retire, but continue in the fight world,” he said. “You never leave it. You’re a fighter. I’ll continue training and doing what I love, but doing it wisely. I won’t spar like crazy anymore because of that head trauma. I’m excited because I’m being honest with myself. I have the desire to fight again two years from now, I will do it, because, at the end of the day, that’s our decision.”