Following his loss to Mike Pyle at UFC 128, BJJ ace Ricardo Almeida has decided to call it a career. Almeida announced his retirement on his official website and Facebook last night, citing his struggle to find a balance between fighting, teaching and caring for his family as the reason for his decision.

Here’s his full statement:

Back in 2008 I decided to return to MMA. Since then I have had the privilege of fighting eight times in the UFC. As a competitor I can think of no bigger thrill than to stand in the center of the octagon with my hands raised.

During these almost four years it has been a personal struggle to find balance between my fighting career, caring for my son who was diagnosed with autism soon after I signed a six-fight deal with the UFC, teaching at my growing Jiu Jitsu Academy and the family duties we all have.

MMA is a great sport but also physically and mentally unforgiving. It is a dangerous task to step in the octagon, specially if your focus is not at 100%.

After much deliberation since my fight at UFC 128 I have decided to step away from the sport as a fighter.

I will continue to fully support the UFC as a coach and of course as a big fan. I would like to thank Lorenzo Fertitta and Dana White for their leadership and vision which brought the sport to new heights. I would also like to thank Joe Silva for giving me the opportunity to compete among the best martial artists in the world.

Renzo Gracie, Mark Henry, Frankie Edgar and all my teammates who I could not have gone through this challenge without.

Finally I would like to thank my wife, children and family as well as my students. You will have my integral dedication from here on.

Lastly the fans who make MMA the greatest sport there is.

Ricardo Almeida.

Almeida retires from professional competition with a 13-5 record that includes five submission victories and notable wins over Kazuo Misaki, Nate Marquardt, Ryo Chonan, Kendall Grove and Matt Brown. He will continue his role as head instructor at his academy, Ricardo Almeida Jiu-Jitsu in Hamilton, New Jersey.

Image via Dave Mandel for Sherdog