UFC featherweight Leah Letson announces MMA retirement: ‘I simply don’t love fighting the way I used to’

Leah Letson has hung up the gloves.

The UFC women’s featherweight announced her retirement from MMA on Monday in a lengthy Instagram post. Letson (5-2 MMA, 1-1 UFC), who most recently competed in November 2021, cited the loss of love for the sport, plus its taxing nature, as the main reasons why she decided to walk away.

Letson competed twice under the UFC banner. She made her debut with a split decision win over Julija Stoliarenko at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale in 2018. After health battles with hyperthyroidism and subsequent depression, Letson then returned in 2021 when she lost by TKO to former UFC title challenger Felicia Spencer in a third round TKO at UFC Fight Night 197.

These pair of performance followed a run on “TUF 28”, when she competed in the women’s featherweight tournament. Letson defeated Bea Malecki in the opening round of the bracket, but lost to eventual winner Macy Chiasson in the semi-finals.

Below is Letson’s statement announcing her retirement from MMA:

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven,” -Ecclesiastes 3:1-2

“It is with mixed emotions I am announcing my official #retirement from MMA. Although it is somewhat sad to say goodbye to the sport that has been a part of me for so long, it is something that I have been thinking about for a while, and know I need to do. I have accomplished what I set out to accomplish: I made it to the biggest #MMA stage in the world with the #UFC. I was even able to compete on The Ultimate Fighter show. At my peak, I was ranked #9 in the world and I am proud to have had a successful career. However, it is important to know when to hang it up. For me, that time is now.

“When I first started the sport, I had such a strong passion and love for MMA that I was willing to do whatever it took to be successful. After years of over-training, under-eating and enduring emotional abuse, I developed such severe health issues that I almost died. It took 3 whole years of extreme dedication to my doctor’s orders and countless medical bills to get my health back on track. I was able to overcome and accomplish not just getting myself to a normal level of healthy again, but I was able to get myself back into fighting shape and endure an entire fight camp. It was at that point, I knew I was getting burned out on the sport, but I had to prove to myself and the world that I could do it. I did. After 3 years of struggling, I stepped into the cage with the former title contender and I held my own. Though it wasn’t the outcome I had hoped for, I was so proud of myself for overcoming huge mental and physical hurdles and #fighting again.

“After that fight, I feel have nothing more to prove to myself, and most importantly, I simply don’t love fighting the way I used to. Fighting is just as much mental as it is physical; therefore, if you’re head isn’t in it anymore, fighting can be a real dangerous sport. I have no regrets. Martial Arts will always be a part of who I am, but I will no longer be fighting for a living.
I want to thank all of my dedicated fans that have supported me for so long. I hope that you continue to follow me and my story. I know God has great plans for me!”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie