UFC lightweight Kurt Pellegrino has decided to take a break from MMA, but he’s not going as far as calling it retirement.
The multi-time veteran of the UFC who is currently coming off back-to-back losses to George Sotiropoulos and Gleison Tibau, and he’s decided to put his attention on other areas of his life instead of his own fight career.
Pellegrino, who runs a successful MMA academy in New Jersey, has told the UFC that he doesn’t want to renew his contract, and will take some time to make a decision whether to return to the promotion or not.
“At this time I am choosing to take some time off and step away from the sport as a fighter,” Pellegrino wrote on his website. “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 take the time to regroup, refocus, and rethink what it is that I want to do going forward.”
A husband and father as well, Pellegrino admits that family played a big part in wanting to take a step back from fighting, but he also wants to get back to the passion that made him love being a fighter in the first place.
“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,” said Pellegrino.
“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.”
The New Jersey resident will continue to teach and develop his MMA team as well as other projects. Pellegrino has also become a main training partner over the last few years for fighters like UFC featherweight Kenny Florian, and will continue to train and work in the sport, just not fight for right now.
“I am very proud of what I have accomplished over the past eleven years in this sport. I was able to do all the things that I set out to do, which includes achieving a black belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, competing in the world championship Abu Dhabi tournament, and fighting all over the world including Japan and of course in the top MMA organization in the world, the UFC, for five years and 12 fights. Of those twelve fights I was awarded five ‘Fight of the Night’ and ‘Submission of the Night’ honors and for that I am proud,” Pellegrino stated.
If Pellegrino does walk away from the sport permanently he will do so with a career mark of 16-6 with 12 of those fights taking place inside the UFC Octagon.