Brittney Palmer explains decision to retire from UFC, recalls surprising Dana White

One of the most notable ring card girls in the history of mixed martial arts laid down her shorts at the conclusion of the UFC’s 2023 calendar because all good things must come to an end.

Brittney Palmer served in the role from UFC 125 in 2011, all the way until UFC 296 in December. She announced her retirement after winning Ringcard Girl of the Year at the 15th Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards.

“I’ve done it for a long time and I think I’ve always had the question so many times. ‘When are you going to quit? When are you going to give another girl a shot?’ I get these interview questions, and so I think about it,” Palmer recently told MMA Junkie Radio. “I’m 36 years old. I always said that once my art career started to level up to where my UFC career is and I wasn’t able to commit to both evenly, that I would have to make the decision. It was just time. You feel it.”

“… When I found out I won Ring Girl of the Year, I was actually in New York City working that event. All of a sudden, I was like, ‘You know what? Wouldn’t it just be epic if I could use this opportunity, where I have the mic, to retire.’ We don’t really get too much of a voice, so to have that opportunity I thought was just a great way to settle out the year and my career with UFC – and yeah, I did it.”

Palmer, 36, has multiple revenue streams outside of fighting as she is an accomplished contemporary artist and model. Palmer has worked in an artistic capacity for the UFC and Topps trading cards, among other organizations.

“I paint for the UFC now,” Palmer said. “I do their t-shirts. The last shirt that I did was for International Fight Week. … I’ve done Conor McGregor shirts. I’ve painted Jon Jones shirts. I painted, for Reebok, the UFC shirts. That’s going to be something that I want to continuously do. I’m working on a mural project right now, hopefully as long as everything goes as planned, I’ll be painting it during UFC 300. I will always kind of be in that world of painting with the fighters, just because I have such a good relationship with UFC and I will genuinely still watch the fights. I want to continuously be creating for them.”

Few people knew Palmer’s plans to announce her retirement at the award show Dec. 14 when she broke the news to the rest of the world. UFC CEO Dana White wasn’t even aware – though Palmer said she tried (and failed) to give him a heads up.

“I had actually tried to text him and tell him what I wanted to do and he kind of just like didn’t respond,” Palmer said. “I wasn’t going to chase him. I was like, ‘Dana, I need to talk to you for two minutes.’ It was after Thanksgiving and I just thought it would’ve been the right thing to do to let him know that I was planning on retiring. I didn’t hear back from him, so I was like, ‘Well, I guess he’s going to have to find out at the award show.

“I went up to him and pulled him backstage. I was like, ‘Listen, I’m retiring.’ He’s like, ‘Wait, what?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, I’ve been trying to tell you.’ He’s like, ‘I thought you wanted to talk about something else.’ I’m like, ‘No, this is what I want.’ He was like, ‘Well, what are you going to do?’ He was excited for me. I think he assumed something was going to come eventually. We can’t be there forever. We want to. It’s so fun. You get to travel with this circus and everyone knows each other and loves each other. It’s such an adventure, but eventually you’re going to have to start a new life.”

Palmer admits no longer being a part of live UFC events is a bit foreign to her. A little more than a month removed from her final UFC event, it still hasn’t totally set in. But Palmer has no regrets, and acknowledged the passage of time should normalize her feelings.

“To be completely transparent, there is an identity crisis,” Palmer said. “It’s not a crisis, but this is what I’ve known for so long. Who am I without this? I have to start establishing this resilience to change and what my next path is and how I’m going to balance everything. Now that I have more time to create my art, what am I going to do with my time? I think that’s what’s my focus right now rather than just jumping in and starting everything new and complicating things. I need to kind of declutter and settle in and then push forward.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie