UFC veteran Kurt Pellegrino shocked many MMA fans on May 31, with his decision to walk away from the sport at the age of 32. Pellegrino issued a statement on Tuesday, announcing his decision to the MMA community:
“I am writing to let everyone know where I stand as far my fighting career goes. 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 take the time to regroup, refocus, and rethink what it is that I want to do going forward”
Pellegrino made his professional MMA debut in the WEC, fighting against Mac Danzig. Pellegrino won his debut and went on to win seven of his next eight MMA fights, earning himself a spot in the UFC.
Pellegrino continued his success in the UFC, defeating reputable MMA fighters like Josh Neer and Thiago Tavares. Pellegrino prided himself as an entertaining MMA fighter, and usually delivered whenever he stepped into the Octagon. While Pellegrino indicated his two recent losses were a factor in his decision, most MMA fans would agree he still has several years left in his tank.
It’s nice that Pellegrino has enough things going on for him to walk away from MMA at a young age. His academy has over 300 students, and will probably continue to grow. Aspiring fighters might want to take a page from Pellegrino’s book and learn how to use MMA to open other doors.