Jessica-Rose Clark still intends to compete in combat sports – it just won’t be in the sport of mixed martial arts. She meant to retire from the cage a couple of years sooner.
“My contract ended after the [submission loss to Tainara Lisboa at UFC Charlotte] – that was the last fight on my deal,” Clark said recently on The MMA Hour. “Honestly, when I fought Sarah Alpar, which was at the end of 2020, that was gonna be my retirement fight in MMA. I was not happy doing it anymore. I was getting so injured constantly.
“I had this vision of what it was, and then the reality once I got to that level were two very different things, and I was really struggling to kind of let go of that vision I had in my head, and really settle into the reality.
“I just wasn’t enjoying it, and I’d said to myself with the Sarah Alpar fight before I walked out, I was like, ‘If you don’t enjoy it tonight, that’s it. We’re going to call it.’ And then I had a great fight, and I ended up getting injured. I tore my ACL in that fight, I had to have surgery and all of this, and then I got offered a good new contract with a significant pay bump and new visa, and I was like, ‘OK, that was a good fight. We’ll give it another shot.’”
There are no bad feelings toward the UFC in any way in regards to how she was treated, or the nine-fight run that she had over nearly six years. It all came down to passion, and her love for the overall sport of MMA just wasn’t there anymore.
“It just didn’t fulfill me anymore the way it used to, it didn’t excite me anymore the way that it used to,” Clark explained. “There were bits and pieces that I really love, I love being in front of everyone, I love being an entertainer, I love being in the crowd, I love hearing people cheer my name, like all of that aspect. But the actual sport of MMA, I just didn’t love it anymore.
“Every day I would go to wrestling and jiu-jitsu, and I would walk away just so beat up, and it it just felt like it wasn’t worth it anymore. I won my next fight after that, [and] I hated that fight. It was terrible, all I did was wrestle. I hated it, but whatever, we got a paycheck, and then losing to Stephanie like kind of lit that fire, that little bit of arrogance, that ego where I’m like, ‘I need to get it back.’
“And then when I fought Julia, and had my arm dislocated, I retired in the cage after that. I was like, ‘No, I’m done.’ I had said if I get another bad injury, that’s it. That’s it for me. I don’t wanna do this anymore, and then came back from that, and I still had one fight left on my deal, and my intention was always to – whether I won or lost – that last fight on my contract, it was gonna be to walk away and try my hand at something else. I wanted to do pro boxing, I wanted to fight [in kickboxing], and I’m also 36 this year. So I also knew that if I signed another contract and my career kept going the way it did, which was one fight a year because I kept getting injured, then that was probably gonna be the end of my career,
“My career was going to die in the UFC, and it was never a bad place to be,” Clark continued. “I just didn’t love the sport anymore, and I wanted to try other things before it was too late, and it sucks not getting kind of the same paycheck that I was getting there, but the love that I’ve received since leaving has been way more than I was expecting.”
Clark was expected to compete this past September at Lion Fight 75 in her first post-UFC bout. However, the fight was cancelled when her opponent, Karen Cedillo, was not medically cleared.