UFC Veteran Rafael Natal Retires: ‘It’s Time to Step Back’

After a career spanning 12 years, Rafael Natal has decided enough is enough.

Natal announced his retirement Monday, ending his career with a 21-9-1 record that included a 9-7-1 mark inside the Octagon.

“I came here today to announce my retirement from MMA,” Natal said on The MMA Hour. “It was the toughest walk in today to your studio because it is hard to make this announcement, but I talked to my family, my friend, my coaches. That is the time. I have new focus in my career as a coach, so that’s the (right) thing to do in the moment.

“It’s very hard, you know? It was a long journey. I love MMA, I love training, cutting weight, but I had some surgeries before. I’m focused on that 100 percent in my life, doing this 15 years, so it’s time to step back. My mom asked me this a long time ago, and that was a hard decision, but that’s what we have.”

Natal made his debut in 2005 and last fought for the UFC this past July when he was knocked out by Eryk Anders and suffered his third consecutive defeat. During his run, the 34-year-old defeated the likes of Uriah Hall, Tom Watson and Paul Bradley.