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UFC star Claudia Gadelha reveals reason for retiring early: It was ‘like a knife stabbing my skull’

Former strawweight contender Claudia Gadelha gives the details on why she retired at age 33.

Claudia Gadelha lost to Yan Xiaonan back in November 2020.
Claudia Gadelha lost to Yan Xiaonan back in November 2020.
Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

After announcing her retirement at the age of 33, former UFC strawweight title challenger decided to finally explain what led her to the decision that was so surprising to many. Although she had gotten a position as an executive in the UFC, the Brazilian pointed out how it was her health that ultimately made her hang up her gloves.

In an in interview on Combate’s podcast Mundo da Luta, Gadelha said she had been suffering from headaches due to head trauma. Not looking to risk her health any further following some exams, Claudia retired from the sport shortly after, but was soon in talks with the UFC to continue to work for them from within.

“I was feeling strong headaches. After some tests, we found out I had suffered a severe concussion. The doctors made me take care of it for a long time and when they allowed me to train again, I started to feel this really strong pain. Like a knife stabbing my skull, not to mention dizziness and nausea. That’s when I decided to retire for good. I didn’t feel like training or fighting anymore.”

“It was a very well-thought out decision.” Gadelha continued. “Soon after the UFC called to take a position in the company. It was sensational, I’m very excited. Dana asked what I thought about the UFC having a Performance Institute in Brazil. I went crazy, that would be great for Brazilian MMA.”

Gadelha (18-5) retired from the sport after a unanimous decision loss to Yan Xiaonan, back in November 2020. The loss snapped a two-fight losing skid for the Brazilian, who had scored wins over Angela Hill and Randa Markos before that.

The 33-year-old fought top competition and remained a contender for most of her UFC stint, ending her Octagon career with a 7-5 record, and 18-5 overall. This included wins over notable names in the division, such as former champion Carla Esparza and one-time title challenger Karolina Kowalkiewicz.