Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva has decided to step away from MMA after a long skid of defeats, the veteran heavyweight announced in an interview with Canal Encarada on Tuesday. The former EliteXC champion and UFC heavyweight title contender calls it a career after 34 MMA bouts over the past 17 years, plus matches in boxing, bare knuckle boxing and kickboxing.
Victorious against MMA stars such as Fedor Emelianenko, Alistair Overeem Andrei Arlovski and Travis Browne, Silva only won one of his past 15 fights in multiple sports, with 12 of those defeats coming by way of knockout. The skid began in May 2013, when he challenged Cain Velasquez for the UFC title.
“I fought the best, I beat the best and also lost to the best,” Silva said. “There’s a time in life when you can’t… I fought in Russia, back-to-back fights basically, and I’m not taking anything away from my MMA opponent [Oleg Popov], but I never saw myself losing to this guy three or four years ago. This guy has nothing for me, but I’m 43 now.”
Silva said he’s always “physically well” to compete “five five-minute rounds” whenever he enters a cage, but his body isn’t the same anymore. The Brazilian heavyweight said “sometimes I see people saying I’m broke and I need the money,” but guaranteed that has never been a factor for him to stay as long as he has in the sport.
“I still have the same head I had when I was 35, but my body isn’t 35 anymore,” he said. “It’s different. We have to respect it. Everybody has a limit. … It’s hard to say ‘I’ll stop, I can’t anymore.’ It’s hard for any professional in any sport.”
Bigfoot said he never suffered a knockdown in the gym and his health was always on point every time he agreed to fight, but he was concerned for his future. He plans to stay involved with the martial arts scene as a grappling and jiu-jitsu coach.
“I had a tumor years ago, had two surgeries, and every time [I had] a knockout or knockdown I ran tests to see if everything was OK because I’m a human being, a father,” he said. “I’ll leave the sport professionally, I have wife and kids and people to take care of, people I love and that love me.”