Ricardo Lamas left his MMA future up in the air after his win this past Saturday in Las Vegas.
He said he wanted to talk over his options with his family before making a decision – though it sounded like the longtime featherweight standout was leaning toward retirement. Tuesday, it sounded like his mind was made up, and that his “Fight of the Night” decision win over Bill Algeo at UFC on ESPN+ 33 will be his last trip to the cage.
Lamas (20-8 MMA, 11-6 UFC) took a unanimous decision from Algeo (13-5 MMA, 0-1 UFC) to open the main card at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. He won with 29-27 scores from all three judges, each of whom gave him a 10-8 third round when the bout was even at a round each.
Lamas told former Bellator and UFC analyst Jimmy Smith on his new “Unlocking the Cage” show on SiriusXM’s Fight Nation Ch. 156 that going out with a win played a big factor in his decision.
“For me, there were a couple things going into this sport that I wanted to do before I left it,” Lamas said. “I’ve accomplished a ton of that. I’m the type of guy where if I were to leave on a bad note, it would just stick with me for the longest time ever – and it’s just something that I couldn’t live with. I always told myself I want to go out on a high note.
“You always hear about these athletes that don’t know when to hang the gloves up, and they experience this downward slide, and it’s just like, ‘Man, this isn’t the same guy he was before.’ I don’t want to leave the sport like that. I don’t want to leave with my face in the mud. I want to leave holding my head up high.”
🔊”The more I think about that last fight and everything that happened…the more I couldn’t make a more perfect time to leave the sport and kind of leave my legacy where it’s at” – @RicardoLamasMMA discusses his #UFCVegas8 post-fight retirement comments with @jimmysmithmma👊 pic.twitter.com/kotoppAcOI
— MMA on SiriusXM (@MMAonSiriusXM) September 1, 2020
Lamas lives in Chicago’s West suburbs and owns a UFC Gym location in suburban Naperville, Ill. But he has based a large portion of his training in Miami at the MMA Masters gym, meaning time spent away from his wife and three children, the youngest of which only is a little more than a year old.
After his win over Algeo, a portion of his post-fight time on the microphone was devoted to a message to Cuban-Americans regarding the political climate in Cuba, as well.
“The more I think about that last fight and everything that happened – having it be a ‘Fight of the Night,’ just showing everybody I’m still there; I can still hang with these guys; I leave my heart in the cage; having my post-fight speech kind of go viral with the Cuban-American community everywhere; just the influx of messages I’ve been getting – I was up a 3 in the morning rocking my girl to sleep because she woke up in the middle of the night, trying to answer everybody back – the more I think about all those things, the more I couldn’t make a more perfect time to leave the sport and kind of leave my legacy where it’s at.”
Lamas fought six times in the WEC, going 4-2 as a lightweight, before that promotion merged with the UFC in late 2010. He started off 4-0 in the UFC as a featherweight, including a bonus-winning submission of Cub Swanson in November 2011.
He fought just once in 2012 and once in 2013 as part of his four-fight run, but that streak was good enough to get a shot at Jose Aldo’s featherweight title at UFC 169. He went the distance with the Brazilian in the co-main event in Newark, N.J., and took a round from the champ from all three judges, but came up short. He flirted with title contention in the division after that, but key losses to Chad Mendes and Max Holloway kept him from another title shot.
After a rough stretch of three losses in four fights, Lamas’ win over Algeo was a bounce-back that gave him wins in two of his past three.
“I was never a world champion or anything like that, but with my post-fight speech, if I could be one tiny spark of the million sparks that helps bring down the dictatorship in Cuba, to me that’s worth more than 10 world championships put together.
“(I want fans to remember) maybe that I’m just kind of one of the last of the old-school guys that held the true aspect of martial arts true during my whole career – respect and discipline I didn’t put on an act. I was who I was every time. And every time I stepped into that cage, I gave it my all and left my heart soul in there. I think if people remember me that way, I’d be pretty happy with my legacy.”