Retired lightweight Rich Clementi never challenged for the UFC championship or headlined a major event. However, he always came to fight even if the odds were against him and put together a respectable run in the sport over more than a decade of competition featuring 68 total tilts.
The 36-year old Clementi opted to hang his gloves up last week after suffering a second round submission loss to Marcin Held at Bellator 81, snapping a three-fight winning streak in the process. Recently asked to reflect on his career, Clementi said it was hard for him to walk away from something so close to his heart but knew it was the right time to do so and has no regrets about the decision.
“To say you can do this sport and everything’s going to go your way, you’re truly not doing this sport how it’s meant to be done. Because if you challenge yourself and step up and take on every challenge, it’s not going to work out in your favor every time,” explained Clementi in an interview with MMAFighting. “The one thing I’m very proud of is my attitude, and that no matter what happened to me, I never faltered. For me, that’s truly what being a fighter is about. It’s about getting knocked down and always getting back up.”
“It kills me,” continued Clementi, expressing how difficult the reality of retirement has been. “This is the person that I am. I truly love fighting. I’ve always been that way and always will be. I’m just a huge fan of the sport but it doesn’t make sense for me to go on when I can utilize my platform for so much more.”
Though Clementi is healthy enough to keep competing, the loss to Held served as a wake-up call of sorts and forced “No Love” to accept it was time for him to move on to the next stage of his life.
“I wouldn’t quit on my own. I’d never say, ‘I don’t want to do this anymore,’” admitted Clementi, adding he didn’t plan to sit around and mope about the end of his career. “I’m the type of guy who doesn’t argue with what life gives me. I’m just going to make the best of it.”
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC