MARTIAL ARTS: Sunshine Coast's Kyle Noke has retired from the realm of professional fighting after suffering a third straight loss on the sport's big stage.
The former bodyguard of late wildlife warrior Steve Irwin was convincingly beaten on points by Russian Omari Akhmedov at UFC Fight Night 101, in front of a packed house in Melbourne on Sunday.
Immediately following the bout, the 36-year-old took to social media.
"Thank you to the UFC and all the fans. It's time to hang up the gloves,” he said.
"I've had a blessed life doing what I love. I wouldn't change a thing.”
It was his sixth loss in his past nine outings, but Noke finishes his career in the Octagon with a solid elite mixed martial arts record of 22 wins, 10 losses and one draw.
Born in Dubbo, Noke took up mixed martial arts in 2002, and trained and fought while serving as Irwin's bodyguard during the latter's heyday.
Noke then upped the ante under renowned trainer Greg Jackson and spent his time between the Sunshine Coast and training camps in New Mexico.
He carved out several promising results and featured on the reality television show The Ultimate Fighter before making his Ultimate Fighting Championship debut in 2010.
He went on to become a regular on the welterweight scene and had some inspired wins, the most recent a powerful first round technical knockout over Peter Sobotta in Melbourne last year.
But he's had three defeats this year, including to Akhmedov.
The two were training partners for four years and are friends.
"I am happy that I won this fight but I also feel sad as Kyle is my friend,” Akhmedov said.
A father to six-month-old Isla, Noke told the Daily on Thursday that "life is great”.
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