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Former UFC flyweight title challenger Chris Cariaso announces his retirement

WEC and UFC veteran Chris Cariaso, who challenged Demetrious Johnson for the flyweight belt less than two years ago, has retired from MMA.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
UFC flyweight Chris Cariaso has called it a career after nine years in professional MMA competition, including nearly five years under the Zuffa banner in both the WEC and UFC. The 34-year-old confirmed his retirement to MMA Junkie earlier in the week.

"I've decided after 22 years of active fighting to call it a career," Cariaso said. "It's a bittersweet decision, as fighting and competing in a ring or cage is about all that I have known for a lifetime.

"The last four-and-a-half years fighting under the umbrella of Zuffa have been nothing short of amazing. I have so many memories and have been able to travel the world doing what I love best. Honestly, my life is what many only get to dream about and I have to thank so many people for making dreams a reality to me."

Cariaso finishes his career with  a 7-6 mark in the UFC and 17-8 in all professional bouts. After winning his WEC debut, he lost to Renan Barao in the promotion's final event before the bulk of the roster migrated to the UFC. Cariaso won 3 of his first 4 UFC fights, including an upset win over Takeya Mizugaki at UFC 144 in Japan.

When the UFC formed a flyweight division in 2012, Cariaso dropped down after the Mizugaki win. After winning his debut vs. Josh Ferguson, Cariaso dropped back-to-back fights to contenders John Moraga and Jussier Formiga. Following three consecutive wins, Cariaso earned himself a title fight vs. Demetrious Johnson in the UFC 178 main event. The bout wasn't competitive and Cariaso tapped to a kimura in the 2nd round. His last two fights ended in decision losses to Henry Cejudo and Sergio Pettis, which dropped him out of the rankings entirely.

While Cariaso may be hanging up the gloves to spend more time with his family, that doesn't mean he's abandoning the sport altogether. He owns a pair of gyms and also eyes a return to the UFC as a coach for fighters he's training. (Also via MMA Junkie)

"I'm actually working with a couple up-and-comers that if I can get them three or four more wins, they're going to be in the UFC," Cariaso said. "So I will be back in the UFC, but behind the cage, hopefully by the end of this year."

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