In a somewhat surprising move, Kurt Pellegrino has decided to return to fighting after a brief retirement, but it won't be with the UFC. Pellegrino elected to sign with Bellator instead, and will face Patricky "Pitbull" Freire at Bellator 59 in November. Kurt, who went 7-5 in 12 UFC fights over 5 years, talked about his decision with Tapout Radio (transcribed by Crooklyn's Corner):
I had the opportunity to re-sign with the UFC, but I don't feel like, at this time in my life, that fighting for them was the best thing for me to do. I didn't feel that I was ready to compete with everyone in there. I didn't feel I was ready to compete in any organization. I just decided not to sign back with them, or for anyone else. I was just gonna retire and go on my way. Maybe I'll fight, maybe I won't fight. Bellator approached me one day, and asked ‘Are you really gonna retire forever, or do you wanna fight?' and my wife just looked at me and said ‘Go for it', and after that, just like in Rocky II, I said ‘You know what? I'm gonna do it' and I did."
He also voiced his displeasure for the press obligations involved in fighting for the UFC, and says he can relate to what Nick Diaz was going through:
"When you sign up to be a professional fighter, and you make it to the cream of the crop, the biggest show in the whole entire universe, or any show, for that matter, that's who you are, and you work for that company. You sign on the dotted line and you are part of that organization. So when they say ‘Congratulations on having a baby, now get your ass to Toronto to sign autographs. You're going, or you're (expletive) fired.' That's your job, and I did that. I lived that life, but I missed my daughter's first words. I missed a lot of stuff, and I didn't wanna do that all over again with my son."
"I understand exactly how he (Diaz) felt. A lot of people think that stuff is amazing and fun. George St. Pierre don't like doing that stuff, either. None of us legitimately wanna go to press conferences when you're cutting weight. You have to train. You have a diet regimen that you're on. That's a lot, and it's not like you're talking about stuff that you've never talked about. It's the same exact thing, with the words switched around. Nick didn't go to it for God knows why, but I understand, because I wouldn't wanna do it. Because I'd rather be training."
He also stated that he's on a one-fight contract with Bellator, because he's not 100% sure this something he still wants to do. Either way, not many fighters have the self-awareness to see that they might not be UFC-caliber and make the move to a smaller promotion on their own. It will be interesting to see if he can beat Freire, and what he'll do with his career after that fight.