(Photo via ocregister.com)
UFC welterweight James Wilks — who became the welterweight winner of The Ultimate Fighter: U.S. vs. U.K. after slicing through Che Mills, Frank Lester (twice), and DaMarques Johnson — has announced his retirement from MMA. The 34-year-old Brit has been sidelined due to injuries since his decision loss to Claude Patrick in October 2010, and finally gave in to doctors’ warnings that he could become paralyzed if he continued to compete.
As MMAJunkie explained, Wilks has spent his entire MMA career fighting with a fractured vertebrae from an old rugby injury, leading to a condition called spinal stenosis: ”My bones are touching the spinal cord,” Wilks said. “There should be a gap, so when you get hit, you’ve got some leeway for it not to cut into the vertebrae. But my vertebrae have grown from the front and back, and they’re touching the spinal cord…I think if I was single and didn’t have a wife and a son to look after, I probably would have risked it. But I thought about it for quite a while and made the decision (to retire)…It sucks because I don’t feel I’ve shown what really have in the Octagon, and I didn’t want to go out on a loss.”
Wilks compiled an official record of 2-2 in the Octagon, including a decision win over Peter Sobotta at UFC 115. He’ll now turn his attention to teaching at his Lightning MMA gym in Laguna Hills, California, and extolling the virtues of a plant-based diet.