‘Drago’ Vows to Unleash Ground Game Upon Return

By Tristen Critchfield Dec 23, 2010
Pete Sell: Jeff Sherwood | Sherdog.com

When Pete Sell debuted in the UFC nearly six years ago, he brought with him a 5-0 record and an accomplished ground game.

After shocking Phil Baroni with a guillotine choke at UFC 51, “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 4 alum dropped five of his next six bouts within the promotion, prompting his release after a technical knockout loss to Matt Brown at UFC 96 in March 2009.

Many vexed observers wonder why Sell has not utilized his formidable jiu-jitsu chops more often. The New York native took three of his first six wins via submission but has not earned a victory by tapout since his upset against Baroni. Sell plans to implement those skills upon his return to the cage.

“I haven’t shown enough of my ground game, which I should do more,” he told Sherdog.com. “I just got a little crazy with getting into the standing up. I took a liking to it, so I started banging people out. Now, I’m definitely looking to use all my attributes. I’m gonna be smarter about my game.”

Sell, a Serra Jiu-Jitsu black belt, attributes his struggles to the price that comes with getting an education in the Octagon.

“A lot of my learning I did at big shows,” he said. “I was 5-0 coming up versus a bunch of different guys, but I got a lot of my experience in the big show. I learned in front of millions of people.”

Included in that stretch were losses to Nate Quarry (twice), Scott Smith and Thales Leites. Sell believes the difference between winning and losing in some of those bouts were minute. His encounter with Smith featured one of the most improbable comebacks in UFC history, as Smith recovered from a brutal body blow to score a one-punch knockout at “The Ultimate Fighter 4” Finale.

“I definitely had some close fights, even with Thales,” he said. “I had Thales in the third round in such a tight guillotine. When he rolled over, his back hit the cage and my arm was stuck under there. It was so close -- inches, you know. With the Nate fight and the Scott fight, I’m banging with the guy the whole time. I’m not trying to play it safe or [not] go for the kill. That’s why I got myself in danger.”

Sell has only recently begun training at full strength after tearing his groin in May. That, coupled with some personal issues, has kept him out of action longer than anticipated.

“I just had a lot of stuff going on,” he said. “I was actually looking to get a fight this past May or June. Then I had that stuff going on in my personal life, and a little bit after that, that’s when I tore my groin. I was feeling like a mess.”

Sell, 28, plans on testing the groin in the gym before making any serious plans about the next move in his MMA career.

“What I want to do is train hard for about a month and see if it holds up, because I don’t want to book something, [and] then all of a sudden I have to pull out because of my groin again,” he said. “I hate doing that -- booking fights and pulling out.”

Like most anyone who has previously been associated with MMA’s most recognizable brand, Sell’s ultimate goal is to return to the UFC. If that day comes, it will be at welterweight instead of middleweight.

“I think I’m gonna be better at 170. The guys that have the reach on me at 185, they’re also humongous, too,” Sell said. “I think it’s the smartest thing to do the 170 thing. I feel like I hit hard for that weight.”
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