After a 13-year, 68-fight professional MMA career, lightweight grappling specialist Rich “No Love” Clementi announced on Monday that he has retired from competition. Best known for his ten-fight stint in the UFC and appearance on TUF 4, Clementi most recently competed in Bellator’s Season 7 Lightweight Tournament, where he lost a toe-hold war to Marcin Held in the semis last Friday. According to this Sherdog report, the aftermath of Clementi’s loss to Held was the biggest motivating factor in his decision to walk away from the sport:
Clementi told Sherdog.com that his left ankle had been injured for about two years before Held cranked on it in both the first and second rounds, with the final submission attempt also damaging his knee. Clementi recently underwent an MRI and says he will need to undergo surgery to repair the damage.
“My tendons are ripped on the outside of my foot, and because they have been stretched for so long, my socket is pitted and will have to be filled and repaired, as well,” Clementi told Sherdog. “I didn’t know, but I also found out I had ACL failure on the knee I had surgery on a few years back. [I will have a] 12- to 14-month recovery.”
“I am very excited to see what the future has in store for me,” Clementi continued. “I will update my condition when my MRI comes back. [My doctor] said my body has been around the block a few times. I can only smile.”
A native of Louisiana, Clementi’s 45-22-1 pro record reflects a fighter who repeatedly pushed through adversity, and refused to play it safe. After kicking off his career with a uninspiring 4-6 run in regional promotions, Clementi turned his fortunes around with nine consecutive stoppage victories, earning his first invite to the UFC. Unfortunately, he would be choked out by Yves Edwards at UFC 41 in February 2003, and didn’t show up in the Octagon again until the “Comeback” season of The Ultimate Fighter, as part of a team that took his nickname as their own.
Clementi went on to become a regular fixture in the UFC lightweight division, putting together a brilliant four-fight stretch in 2007-2008 where he submitted Anthony Johnson and Melvin Guillard, and won decisions over Sam Stout and Terry Etim. But back-to-back losses to Gray Maynard and Gleison Tibau led to his UFC release in early 2009.
Since then, Clementi has competed for a host of promotions, including King of the Cage, DREAM, Superior Challenge, Score Fighting Series, Titan FC, and Bellator — with mixed results. After suffering notable losses to Reza Madadi, Shinya Aoki, Chris Clements in 2011, Clementi’s entry into this year’s Bellator lightweight tourney looked like his last shot at a career rebirth. With nagging knee and ankle injuries and a long road to recovery in front of him, “No Love” is making the right decision to hang up the gloves. Thanks for the memories, Rich.