Bellator 59 might have been Kurt Pellegrino's last time in the cage. | Photo: Dave Mandel
On August 31, 2002 he took a unanimous decision over Mac Danzig. Almost 10 years later, Kurt Pellegrino called it a career in front of a hometown crowd in a loss to Patricky "Pitbull" Freire at Bellator 59 in Atlantic City, N.J.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to try to sit down to take him and his family and convince them that this may not be the last time we see him step into a cage. I think we’d be cheating a lot of fans,” Bellator CEO Bjorn Rebney said.
Having just announced his retirement in the cage during the televised broadcast, “Batman” was given the microphone and held serve for the first ten minutes of the postfight press conference.
“This isn’t the way I wanted it to end,” Pellegrino said. “Walking up the stairs today to come here I could honestly tell you, you’ll never see me fight again unless you’re watching it on YouTube. I know Bjorn said he’s going to talk to us and all that, and I’m sure he means well and wants me to keep fighting. It’s just getting hard. I missed my daughter’s first words because of me fighting. That’s something I always think about.”
Having last fought back in March at UFC 128 against Gleison Tibau, Pellegrino made his return against what he said was an opponent he picked. What transpired in the cage was something he said hadn’t happened during his 10 years of fighting.
“When I tell you I did everything right, I did everything right,” Pellegrino said. “To lose that way and have a ref jump on top of you and tell you that you were laying down, and I had to pick you up ... I actually told him, 'I’m standing up a------.' I remember holding his leg and trying to stand up. Nothing against the ref. He’s a really amazing guy with an amazing mustache.”
Hinting at a possible return to fighting only if it were in Atlantic City, Pellegrino made this decision to retire long before stepping into the cage on Saturday night.
“It was made when my son was born,” Pellegrino said of his decision to step away. “It really just happened. Training for this fight, I wanted to have the most amazing fight whether I won or lost. I would’ve liked to gone 15 minutes just to see how my cardio was and see how all my training was that I did for this fight worked. I didn’t want to submit him or knock him out or vice versa. I just wanted to fight for 15 minutes. That’s it and then retire.”
Enjoying his moment during the press conference, the Point Pleasant, N.J., native posed the question of his retirement to both the audience and his wife. The latter answered, “No comment.” The former responded with a definitive yes. Pellegrino did have one final statement before leaving the press conference early.
“I want to see one of my guys sitting up here next to you guys. That’s my dream. I want to see my students right here in the same exact environment that I was in," he said. "If that could happen I would walk away from the sport right now. If I could sign one of my fighters to Bellator right now and train him.”