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UFC veteran Erick Silva retires at 38 following post-COVID-19 heart attack

Welterweight Erick Silva hangs up the gloves after a 14-year career.

Erick Silva retired from MMA at 38.
Erick Silva retired from MMA at 38.
Photo by Buda Mendes/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

Welterweight Erick Silva has decided to call it a career after a health scare. At 38 years of age, the UFC and Bellator veteran felt like it was time to retire from mixed martial arts after sustaining a heart attack back in June 2021.

In an interview with Globo Esporte, Silva detailed what it was like to go through the entire process, which even left him in intensive care at the hospital for one week. After the ordeal, which his doctor attributed to a complication from COVID-19, the Brazilian felt like it fighting was too much of a risk at that point.

“Back in June 2021, I had a heart attack,” he said. “I couldn’t train for a year and a half. I had gone for a session with Joilton Peregrino and made too much of an effort. We did a five-round session and I felt a sharp pain in my chest.

“I thought it was just muscle fatigue, I didn’t understand what was going on. I went home, I played with my son in the pool, even while in pain. The pain would only ease off with some breathing exercises. It wouldn’t stop, though. So I got in the car and drove myself to the hospital. We did some tests and they showed that my heart enzymes were too high and I got admitted.”

“I stayed in the ICU for a week.” Silva said. “My cardiologist said it was most likely a consequence of COVID-19, because they had found a thrombus in coronary artery and that was preventing my blood from flowing. I was staying put for a while, then I did some routine exams that showed my heart’s anatomy was perfect. But this was a decisive factor in me deciding not to fight anymore.”

Now working a steady job in the financial market, Erick is back in his homestate of Espirito Santo, Brazil, and feels like he has enough security to provide for his family and give back to the community. Alongside his work, the 38-year-old also runs the Erick Silva Institute, a social project which teaches martial arts to poor children in his hometown of Vila Velha.

During his 14-year career, Erick (20-11-1 NC) shared the Octagon with some notable names of the welterweight divison in his time, including Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Matt Brown and Dong Hyun Kim. Silva’s last outing took place in June 2019, when he dropped a unanimous decision to Paul Daley at Bellator 223.