Kurt Pellegrino kneeing George Sotiropoulos at UFC 116
Sometimes success can be a bad thing. The rush to capitalize on things going the right way can cause things to go the wrong way.
For UFC lightweight Kurt Pellegrino, last July’s bout against George Sotiropoulos was admittedly the pothole in the fast track he’d placed himself on with four wins in a row prior.
“That’s exactly what it was,” Pellegrino admitted to MMAWeekly.com. “I figured I had a lot of momentum going and if I could just keep winning right now and keep going, I could get past George and get a title shot.
“I think that’s the one thing that screwed me up. I thought I could be the UFC champion, and I think that was the thing that adds pressure.”
The pace at which Pellegrino pushed himself ended up taking its toll on his training routine and health.
“I think I did one thing wrong, I took too many fights in a row,” he said. “I didn’t give myself that little bit of time off training. Especially after my Fabricio Camoes fight, I had to undertake a surgery and then start training for a fight.
“I thought I could beat George – I still think I can beat George – but when you tear your ACL in round one, it’s tough to win when the cards are stacked against you. I’m just glad I was able to push through and finish the fight.”
After having surgery to repair his ACL, Pellegrino revamped his training routine by adding top kickboxing coach Brian Wright, kicking up his workouts with the help of trainer Jon Chaimberg, and reconnecting with the Florian brothers.
“Because of my work with Brian my footwork, hands, and takedowns are so much better,” stated Pellegrino. “I asked Jon to not give me a workout that he thought I could complete, and I completed every one. It was grueling, but I was laughing and enjoying every minute of it because I loved it.
“I trained with Kenny Florian and his brother for four weeks. I haven’t done that since my fight with Thiago Tavares, and people saw the outcome of that fight (he won). I’m back to normal. I cannot believe where I’m at in my life and it’s been great. You guys are going to be so surprised.”
Pellegrino will get an opportunity to showcase his improved game at UFC 128 on March 19 against Gleison Tibau, who is also looking to rebound off a loss in his last fight.
“This fight, I believe, is going to be a stand-up fight,” surmised Pellegrino. “He’s going to try to take me down and he’s going to get stuffed, real hard. And when I feel like taking him down, I’m gonna.”
In an interesting twist, Pellegrino has some preparation advice for Tibau going into their match-up.
“I’ll help him out with a tip: Do not watch my last fight, that will not help you. I was completely hurt,” stated Pellegrino. “Take that fight, throw it in the garbage or do whatever you have to do, that fight is not me.
“Watch my ones before that and say, ‘Holy (expletive), this is who I’m fighting?’ Yeah, that guy, the guy who ran over Fabricio Camoes, Josh Neer, and the guy who took Rob Emerson down when he was done freaking around – that’s the guy. That’s who you should train for.”
After getting back on track with his outlook and revamping his training, Pellegrino may find himself back in title contention his way.
“Guys thank you so much, MMAWeekly, you guys are the best,” he said in closing. “I want to thank Brian Wright for helping me out and making it fun again. Thanks to all my guys at Pellegrino Mixed Martial Arts in Belmar, N.J.
“Gleison Tibau is a threat for anyone at the 155-pound weight class, and I believe so am I. I got the jiu-jitsu, I got the hands, and I definitely have the wrestling. All I care about is getting my hand raised at the end of the night.”