The two-time The Ultimate Fighter finalist announced the news on his social media Wednesday, then explained his decision in an interview with MMA Fighting.
“God is crazy,” Lima said with a laugh. “God spoke with my wife and said, ‘Dhiego’s last fight was his last.’ I know when God speaks with me. It was tough, I had a fight booked and everything, but I know God’s voice and know when He speaks with me, so let’s move on and see what God has for us down the line.”
Lima (15-9), an 11-year MMA veteran who is 3-4 in his current stint in the UFC, admitted he cried on Tuesday when he made the decision, but knows he’ll accept it eventually.
“I’m in my prime,” Lima said. “Only God can pull off something like this. Sometimes we don’t want to do things, but it’s something we have to do. But the joy will come. I cried a lot yesterday, I didn’t understand it, but I’m happier now. We start to understand things.”
Lima runs a gym with “almost 500 students” in Atlanta alongside his brother, former Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, and says his future is set following losses to Matt Brown and Belal Muhammad in 2021.
Twelve years and four days after his professional MMA debut in South Carolina — a run that included wins over Chad Laprise and Court McGee under the UFC banner — Lima is walking away from the sport and says there’s no chance he’ll ever competes again.