Murilo “Ninja” Rua will walk away from the sport at 31. | Photo: David Lethaby/

With three simple but profound words, former EliteXC middleweight champion Murilo “Ninja” Rua embraced retirement from mixed martial arts.

“Life goes on,” he told

The decision no fighter wants to make came in wake of Rua’s third-round knockout loss to British Association of Mixed Martial Arts titleholder Tom Watson in the BAMMA 6 main event on Saturday at Wembley Arena in London. Beaten up for the better part of two and a half rounds, he was ultimately cut down by a head kick and follow-up punches from the surging British middleweight.

“I was already giving a lot of thought for a good while, along with my family and my manager, about the right time to quit, and my love for MMA always spoke louder, so I always wanted to try one more time,” Rua said. “The opportunity to try to win a belt like BAMMA’s lightened up the will to close my career well, but time goes on for everybody. I have been on this road for a long time, and I already went into this fight with my mind set that I would stop either after this fight or after the next.

“I tried to do the best possible training,” he added. “I went to the United States, went to Sao Paulo, and with the outcome of the fight, we have to be objective and accept things.”

The older brother of 2005 Pride Fighting Championships middleweight grand prix winner and former UFC light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, Ninja made his professional debut under the Meca World Vale Tudo banner in May 2000 and remained unbeaten until his Pride 17 encounter with two-time Olympian Dan Henderson ended in a split decision defeat. He competed in three weight classes -- middleweight, light heavyweight and heavyweight -- during his 11-year career, earning notable wins over Mario Sperry, Akira Shoji and Joey Villasenor.

Rua’s career also included high-profile defeats to onetime UFC light heavyweight king Quinton “Rampage” Jackson, two-time Abu Dhabi Combat Club Submission Wrestling World Championships gold medalist Ricardo Arona, former UFC heavyweight titleholder Kevin Randleman, Russian heavyweight Sergei Kharitonov and American Top Team’s Denis Kang.

“I always fought against the best, never picked opponents,” he said. “I’m proud of having always fought at a high level at big shows, so I’d rather leave this way than let things go downhill.”

At 31, Rua plans to keep his finger on the pulse of the sport.

“I realized talking to those around me -- my family and my manager, who is, in reality, my friend before anything else -- that I don’t need to drop MMA just because I stop fighting,” he said. “I can still work with what I love. Now it’s time to take care of my kids, enjoy life with my wife and keep bringing MMA to the world with my seminars, classes and fighters.”

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