Alan Belcher talks about taking time away from MMA to heal and practice Jiu Jitsu

It's not quite retirement, but Alan Belcher is taking a long break from UFC competition to do something he loves, practice Jiu Jitsu.

Fighters seem to be dropping from the ranks of UFC competition almost as fast as they come in. Pat Barry just announced his retirement from MMA last week. And already this year we've seen Quinn Mulhern and Chris Leben go as well. Alan Belcher may not be going that far, but he's certainly taking a good amount of time off, in which he doesn't see MMA in his immediate future. He spoke to MMA Fighting about the transition and how a series of injury woes sapped a lot of his drive and motivation for fighting.

My eyes, pretty much, ever since I was in Brazil... I had the eye injury, it's been the same ever since. I have the blurry vision a little bit. My perception and my vision to the side is a little bit weak, but that's all the same. It's pretty much...

The only thing with my MMA career and injuries is just, I'm tired of getting injuries. I have so much stuff going on, I have the back problems. So, now my back's feeling better, I'm starting to get back into competition, and I just really... I dunno, I'm just working on Jiu Jitsu. I'm not... I don't have any plans or expectations for MMA in the future right now.

So, of course, I'll probably want to do it again, but right now my life is kind of going a different way. I'm trying to coach more, trying to be a Jiu Jitsu competitor more, do some of the things that I was... When I was focused on the UFC I had to be focused on that all the time, everyday. So, now that I'm taking a break from that, I'm not just going to chill and relax by the pool and get fat, you know? I gotta stay busy, keep working, doing something else.

You know, I already have my black belt, but now I'm trying to get better. So, this is part of the process.

He did, however want to make it clear that he wasn't hanging up the gloves, and that he did have a potential timeline in mind for returning to the sport.

Of course there's a chance. I can't say, 100%, I definitely will fight again. But, then again, I'm not going to retire either. So, I wanna leave my options open. Within the next six months, I'm not going to fight. I guarantee you that. But, I'll let the time pass, let half of the year go past, second half of 2014 we can talk about it then.

And eventually he talked about his diminished love for MMA and his growing interest in Jiu Jitsu.

Just, like I said, I want to work on my Jiu Jitsu. Since the eye injuries and some of my injuries I lost a little bit of desire for the fight. I had a lot of disappointments and lost, you know, some of the desire and the passion to go after the belt. Also, I don't really want to do it for the money. You know, that's why I'm doing this.

I'm not getting paid to do this fight. It's just for the heart, it's just for the love of the game. And that's really what I want to compete for. So, my love is here, coming to Brazil with the Brazilian people and doing the Copa Podio and seeing how I do, that's what I want to do. You know what I mean? So, UFC is not what I really want to do. And no matter how much money they can pay me, I don't want to do that right now. That's just how it is.

It definitely seems like, for whatever reason, we're starting to see a lot of fighters step away from the UFC not because of contractual issues or because they've been released, but because they feel that it's time to move on to something else. Part of this is the end of a generation of fighters. Those athletes that entered competition in the early years of the last decade are starting to retire as their fighting careers come to a close. But the sport may also be changing, behind the scenes. An increasing roster size and fewer options outside the UFC means taht divisions are becoming more talent rich and competitive in nature. More fighters competing for the same bonuses, the same headlining spots, and the same belts. It's not an environment that fits everyone.

Whatever the case, it doesn't sound like Alan Belcher is done with MMA, but it may be quite a while before we see him fight again.

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