After more than 20 years in combat sports, Cyrille Diabate believes it’s time to call it quits.
The 40-year-old fighter, from France, on Thursday told MMAjunkie that his fight against Ilir Latifi at Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 37 event in London will be his last.
Diabate (19-9-1 MMA, 4-3 UFC) and Ilir Latifi (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) close out the preliminary card of the show, which takes place at O2 Arena in London and streams on UFC Fight Pass.
Diabate’s retirement announcement is far from typical. Sure, at 40, perhaps the thought of him retiring from fighting shouldn’t come as much surprise. But “The Snake,” one of the sport’s elite kickboxing and muay Thai practitioners, said he nearly just threw in the hat a year ago – only to work his way back for one more fight.
At UFC on FUEL TV 7 in February 2013, also in London, Diabate suffered a brutal calf tear and the fight was stopped after the first round against Jimi Manuwa, who coincidentally headlines the card on Saturday. Diabate said it was the most painful fighting experience he’s ever had, and the resulting rehab had him shelved from true fight training for eight months.
“At one point, just after the fight, I called it quits in my mind,” Diabate told MMAjunkie. “I gave up. I’ve been doing this 20-plus years, and it’s just frustrating to go through a camp of two and a half months, three months, and then to fight like that with that injury. Plus, the pain was just unbearable.”