Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Fan-favorite UFC lightweight, Kurt Pellegrino, made a somewhat surprising announcement on his website today, describing his decision to step away from active MMA competition and pursue other opportunities. Pellegrino most recently competed in his home state of New Jersey at UFC 128 earlier this spring,, where he suffered a close but unanimous decision loss to Gleison Tibau, that snapped his undefeated streak when fighting in NJ. Here are some excerpts from Pellegrino's announcement:
At this time I am choosing to take some time off and step away from the sport as a fighter. Over my most recent fights I have come to the realization that at this point I no longer can, nor want to make fighting my first priority. Never in my career have I lost two fights in a row and my last fight’s decision in particular was especially hard for me to swallow to be honest. Even last year when i was on a 4 fight win streak I still was questioning myself. This has made me reconsider what my next step will be competitively. I have spoken at length with Joe Silva about my decision and have decided not to renew my contract with the UFC
I want to do things that I enjoy right now and refresh my mind. I want to concentrate on my BJJ game and improve it. I want to work on my boxing game and improve that also. I’d like to compete in some grappling tournaments again like the old days and maybe even try my hand at a pro boxing fight. I want to have fun training again, bottom line. Most importantly I want to spend more time with my family. My daughter is four years old and I can’t tell you how much of her life I’ve missed dedicating my life to training for fights. I did so willingly and I’ve made a lucrative career with the UFC, but I’m not sure I could ever say any amount of money was worth it. My wife and I just welcomed a baby boy and I can’t bare the thought of missing as much of his ‘firsts’ as I did my daughters. I’m looking forward to dedicating more of my time to my academy which we’ve just expanded to 9000 square feet. I have almost 300 students and a professional and amateur fight team that I am excited to give more of my time to them, they deserve it
"Batman" closes by reflecting on his career and the stigma of retiring following a loss:
t is bitter sweet to possibly end my career on a loss and something I will have to deal with on my own, but overall it has been a rewarding 11 years for me and I want the end to be on my terms and no one else’s. Its hard to make a decision like this, but I feel its best for me to step away for now and time will tell what the future will bring for me. I don’t want to retire, but I need to find myself and find my love for this sport again.
Hopefully you will see me in the cage again, but if not thanks to everyone for the memories, its been an awesome ride.
Although it won't be in the Octagon, Pellegrino will be in action in a few weeks when he takes on BJJ prodigy Ryan Hall in a Grapplers' Quest super-fight in Morristown, New Jersey. Our own K.J. Gould discussed that match-up the possibilities of more UFC fighters competing in grappling super-fights in the future.
Pellegrino never challenged for a UFC title, but he was rarely in a boring fight and was responsible for many moments that will live on in the minds of MMA fans, whether he was on the giving (the Josh Neer bitch-slap) or the receiving end (the Nate Diaz double-bird triangle). Despite ending his career following a loss and a 7-5 UFC record, Pellegrino's multiple post-fight-bonuses, his popularity with the fans, and his gritty, aggressive style in the cage should make him proud of his accomplishments. We at BloodyElbow.com wish Batman well in his future endeavors.