Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva is a legend of MMA and the heavyweight veteran is known for both his striking and his BJJ ability. He had a long career in the sport, fighting for several major promotions like EliteXC, StrikeForce, and of course the UFC. Silva tried his hand at both kickboxing and bare-knuckle boxing during his time as a fighter, but his main focus was always MMA. Now after seventeen years in the cage, over thirty professional fights, a Cage Rage and EliteXC heavyweight title, and a UFC title-shot; the veteran has announced his decision to retire from professional MMA competition:
“I fought the best, I beat the best and also lost to the best. 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. I still have the same head I had when I was 35, but my body isn’t 35 anymore. 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.”
Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva confirmed in the same interview that after leaving professional MMA he will still stay involved in the sport as a grappling and BJJ coach. It stands to reason that this would be his path, as other top competitors like Ronaldo ‘Jacare’ Souza have mentioned before that fighters can often make more money as a coach than they ever did competing. He won’t just be teaching either, as Silva also has a grappling match booked against Haim Gozali for a Brave CF event in March.
It’s not just age that has caught up with him either, as he has also had several injuries throughout his time in the sport. Silva also mentioned that he has had more serious medical issues during his career as well, and that these also contributed to his decision to retire:
“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. I’ll leave the sport professionally, I have wife and kids and people to take care of, people I love and that love me.”
The interview with Antonio ‘Bigfoot’ Silva where he announced his decision to retire from professional MMA competition to teach BJJ full-time was uploaded to the official YouTube channel of Canal Encarada: