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Ricardo Almeida retires from MMA

Ricardo Almeida seems pretty relaxed before his first

Ricardo Almeida seems pretty relaxed before his first bout at welterweight. He beat Matt Brown at UFC 111 in Newark. (March 27, 2010) Credit: UFC Photo

Ricardo Almeida left fighting once before, and now after a three-year return, he is again leaving the world of professional fighting.

"After much deliberation since my fight at UFC 128, I have decided to step away from the sport as a fighter," Almeida wrote on his website.

Almeida, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu under Renzo Gracie, was 13-5 overall in his career, and 5-3 in the UFC after returning from a four-year layoff in 2008. He put together a three-fight win streak, beating Matt Horwich, Kendall Grove and Matt Brown, then lost to Matt Hughes via submission.

Almeida bounced back to beat T.J. Grant, then lost a unanimous decision to Mike Pyle in his home state at UFC 128 in Newark, N.J., on March 19.

“Ricardo was one of my main training partners ever since he came over from Brazil and i was at Renzo’s,” said Matt Serra, a former UFC welterweight champion. “He’s like a brother to me.”

Nicknamed the "Big Dog," Almeida, 34, will continue with his BJJ academy in Hamilton, N.J. His protege? UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar.

"During these almost four years," Almeida wrote, "it has been a personal struggle to find balance between my fighting career, caring for my son who was diagnosed with autism soon after I signed a six-fight deal with the UFC, teaching at my growing Jiu Jitsu Academy and the family duties we all have."

In 2003, Almeida submitted Nate Marquardt by guillotine choke and was crowned King of Pancrase.

“We competed in Abu Dhabi together," Serra said. "My first time in the UFC [in 2001], he debuted on the same card. We went through a similar journey. I support him in everything he does.”

New York Sports