Olivier (The Canadian Gangster) Aubin-Mercier has announced his retirement, less than a week after winning the PFL lightweight title and the US$1 million that goes with it for the second year in a row.
After earning a hard-fought decision over American (Cassius) Clay Collard in the main event of the PFL championship card Friday in Washington, D.C., the 34-year-old mixed martial arts fighter from Montreal said he planned to take a break from the sport.
On Wednesday, he made the move permanent.
"Feeling incredibly grateful today as I hang up my gloves … As I move on from competition, I hope that the path I've trodden serves as an invitation to other Québécois fighters," he wrote on his verified Instagram account. "May you find in the PFL the same support, the same faith, and the same opportunities to showcase our Québécois tenacity."
Aubin-Mercier (21-5-0) retires on a 10-fight PFL winning streak.
Unlike other MMA promotions, the Professional Fighters League features a regular season and playoffs, culminating in championship bouts with a title and seven-figure payday on the line. Aubin-Mercier knocked out Scotland's Stevie (Braveheart) Ray with one punch in the second round Nov. 25, 2022, to claim both prizes at the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden.
Aubin-Mercier joined the PFL after leaving the UFC in 2019 on the back of consecutive losses to American Alexander (The Great Ape) Hernandez, Brazil's Gilbert (Durinho) Burns and Russia's Arman Tsarukya.
Largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he had a break of 23 months between his last fight in the UFC (July 2019) and his debut in the PFL (June 2021).
He won both of his PFL fights in 2021 but missed the start of the season through injury so did not figure in the playoffs. He won all four outings last year in claiming the 155-pound crown.
Aubin-Mercier credited his PFL success to hard work and using his head.
"You have to train smart … I talked to a lot of fighters in the PFL and they all said the same thing. You cannot spar like you used to,'' he said, citing the PFL's busy schedule.
Aubin-Mercier, who used to spar two or three times a week in the UFC, stopped sparring between fights.
Aubin-Mercier, then with a 4-0-0 pro record, was a cast member of "The Ultimate Fighter Nations: Canada vs. Australia'' reality TV show, losing a split decision to fellow Canadian Chad (The Disciple) Laprise in the finale in April 2014. He won seven of his next eight UFC fights before losing three straight and making the switch to the PFL.
"I must give a massive shout-out to (the PFL)," he wrote in his farewell post. "PFL believed in me. They recognized a fighter in a kid from Quebec who just wouldn’t quit. It has been an honour to step into the cage under their banner."
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This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 29, 2023
Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press