Former Bellator heavyweight champion Cole Konrad surprised many when word of his pending retirement was made earlier this week.

Konrad, a former NCAA wrestling champion at the University of Minnesota, is the only fighter to ever hold the Bellator heavyweight title. However, his lack of fights over the past few years led him to make the decision to leave the sport.

This decision has been on my mind for a while, and the time was finally right to make the move. I wrestled my whole life and it was one of the only things I ever knew. When my college career was over, MMA seemed like the natural progression, but it was never really my passion. I thoroughly enjoyed my time inside the Bellator cage, but having the consistency and stability of going to the office every day is something that just made sense to me.

Konrad will trade his singlet and MMA shorts for a suit and tie, as he joins a Minnesota-based company as an agricultural commodities trader. He will specialize in dairy products, continuing in the family tradition of ag trading.

I can’t say enough about my time with Bellator. I enjoyed every second of my time in the cage, and having a boss like Bjorn (Rebney) was a pleasure. Bellator does things the right way, and if I ever find myself back in the cage, there is no doubt in my mind it will be with Bellator.

Rebney said that he and Bellator “wish Cole, his wife and family the very, very best as he moves into this new stage of his life.” He added that they have started to work on filling the title vacancy.

Konrad finished his MMA career with a perfect 9-0 record, including seven wins with Bellator. He was a member of Team DeathClutch, the same camp that Brock Lesnar trained at.

Photo Credit: Sherdog