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UFC vet Thiago Tavares talks quitting MMA to study medicine: ‘It’s a noble profession’

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Former UFC lightweight and featherweight Thiago Tavares has spent the last few years moving away from the hurt game and into the healing arts.

UFC Fight Night: Belfort v Henderson 3 Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

From hurting to healing, former UFC lightweight and featherweight Thiago Tavares’ professional career has taken something of a sharp turn. After being released from the Octagon in 2016 and taking a couple fights on the regional circuit under the Professional Fighter’s League banner, the 35-year-old has moved on to a different path.

In an interview with Ag Fight, Tavares (22-10-1) explained that for the past few years, he has been pursuing a career in medicine. With 30 years of martial arts practice in his life, the PFL season 1 competitor feels he accomplished quiet a lot during his time in combat sports, and even admits he still feels an itch to fight again. But, at this point, it sounds like he’s completely dedicated to his studies.

“I had already decided to stop fighting back in 2016, then I started my medicine course,” Tavares explained. “But in 2018 I got some offers so I started fighting again that year. After those MMA fights, I retired in 2018.”

“I’ve been practicing martial arts since I was five, when I started judo.” Thiago continued. “I ended up having my first MMA fight at a really young age, 18. It’s not easy to make a sudden change like this. I had a two, three training sessions per day routine, I trained on Saturdays and Sundays. At the end of that, there was the reward, which was to step into that Octagon and literally slugging it out for 15 minutes in front of thousands of people, feeling an adrenaline you can’t compare to anything else in the world. Sometimes I feel an itch to fight again.”

Tavares has been studying medicine at Universidade do Contestado, in his home state of Santa Catarina, southern Brazil, and is already halfway through his program. He hasn’t picked out a specialty yet, but revealed an admiration for his personal orthopedist.

“It’s always been a field that caught my attention, because you acquire so much knowledge that is essential for life. It’s a noble profession, it can save lives in many different ways. Like Dr. Luis Fernando Funchal, the orthopedist who perfomed surgery on me many times and thanks to him I had an 18-fight career in the UFC. I have great friends who are doctors and I have always admired them. All those factors added up and here I am in love with medicine.”

The Brazilian joined the UFC in 2007 and left the organization with a 10-7-1 record in 2016. During that time, the BJJ blackbelt scored wins over notable names such as Clay Guida, Sam Stout and Spencer Fisher.

A competitor at PFL’s 2018 lightweight grand prix, he had his last fights on October 13 of that year, when he lost to both Islam Mamedov and Rashid Magomedov on the same night.