Former UFC light heavyweight champion Rashad Evans is calling it a career.
The 38-year-old, who has lost his past five fights, announced his retirement on Ariel Helwani's MMA Show on Monday. His most recent defeat was a 53-second KO at the hands of Anthony Smith on June 9 at UFC 225 in Chicago.
"At one point in my life, I felt as if fighting was everything. It was everything. I put life second," Evans (19-8-1) said on the ESPN podcast. "But now life has taken over. Now fighting has become second. And competing in a sport like mixed martial arts, where you have a lot of guys who haven't been to the top of the mountain, and haven't experienced the things that I've experienced, they're really hungry for it. And me, I was just lukewarm."
Evans was anything but lukewarm as he built his own young career to a championship level. He burst onto the UFC scene in 2005 by winning the heavyweight competition in Season 2 of "The Ultimate Fighter." Once the reality show had earned him a contract with the promotion, he moved to light heavyweight and quickly rose through the ranks. He ran his record to 12-0-1 with an upset win over Chuck Liddell, shocking the MMA world by knocking out the former 205-pound champion to set up a title shot. He became champion on Dec. 27, 2008, with a KO of Forrest Griffin.
Five months later, "Suga Rashad" dropped the title in his first defense when he was knocked out by Lyoto Machida.
The native of Niagara Falls, New York, continued to pile up high-profile victories -- over Quinton "Rampage" Jackson, Tito Ortiz and Phil Davis -- to earn another shot at the title. In April 2012, Evans lost to then-champ Jon Jones, his former training partner, via unanimous decision.
Evans went on to record wins over Dan Henderson and Chael Sonnen before his career hit the losing streak.
It is especially difficult for Evans, he said during the interview, to walk away from the sport while on a downslide. "I don't want to go out losing," he said. "But at the same time, it's what I need. It's what I need to do because I feel like I have other things in life that are calling me to do, to go to."
Hearing himself use the word "retire," Evans became emotional. "I've thought about how hard it would be for me to say these words, to say it out loud," he said, "but this is part of me healing. This is part of me accepting what is. I can't fool myself any longer."
Evans said he knew he was done as he was leaving the Octagon following the KO loss earlier this month.
"When I walked out, I knew. I knew," he said. "But it took me weeks to admit it."