Returning Pellegrino Vows to Submit ‘Pitbull’ in Bellator Finale

By Mike Whitman Nov 24, 2011
Six months ago, mixed martial arts fans thought they might never again see Kurt Pellegrino fight.

After back-to-back losses in the UFC, Pellegrino (Pictured, File Photo) petitioned for his release from the company and left the sport to focus on other endeavors. However, after a summer spent away from the cage, the New Jersey native resurfaced inside Bellator Fighting Championships and will now take on Patricky Freire at Bellator 59 on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J.

A lightweight tournament finalist in Season 4, Freire is considered by many to be one of Bellator’s best at 155 pounds. Pellegrino, however, views Freire as a challenge in need of conquering.

“I’m going to submit Patricky in this fight,” Pellegrino said. “We are going to play jiu-jitsu on the floor, and he’s going to get tapped out. He can’t show me his back like he’s done in some of his other fights, because I’ll take his back and submit him.

“Everyone keeps saying that Patricky ‘Pitbull’ is so scary, but I don’t really think so,” he continued. “He had a one-punch knockout over Rob McCullough and a flying knee [knockout] over Toby Imada, but, other than that, he looks pretty human to me. He has a black belt, but I submit black belts.”

According to Pellegrino, simple reasons have inspired his return to the cage: the drive to compete still lingers and too many questions remain unanswered after his departure from the UFC.

“The vision quest I’ve always had for myself ended with me being on top. I have to know if I have something left or if it’s over, and I don’t believe it’s over,” said Pellegrino. “I had a serious leg injury in my last two fights before I retired, and that’s not how I want to be remembered. If I lose, I want to know I was 100 percent, and I’m definitely 100 percent going into this fight with Patricky. When I’m healthy, I don’t feel like there’s anyone that can beat me.

“It drove me nuts sitting on the couch and not having my hand raised. [That is] what’s driving me,” he added. “I’ve been having dreams of getting my hand raised, and it’s been making me insane, so I’m just going to make those dreams a reality.”

Pellegrino says he has altered his training regimen ahead of his showdown with the elder of the “Pitbull” brothers, believing it will pay dividends when he reenters the cage.

“I’ve changed everything for this fight with Patricky,” said Pellegrino. “I’m in the best shape of my life. I’ve changed my diet. I’ve changed my nutritionist. I’ve changed the way I am on the ground. I’ve changed every aspect of my arsenal for my return to the cage. I’m completely different from head to toe now. There is not a tape that Patricky could watch that could emulate what’s coming at him.”

His body healthy and his preparation peaking, Pellegrino hopes to answer any remaining questions when he squares off with Freire.

“This fight is so important to me because I am fighting for me. I’m fighting to prove to myself that a 32-year-old guy still has it,” he said. “I thought I sucked. I thought I wasn’t good. But since I retired, I’ve been beating guys up in the gym, and I can’t see how I can lose right now. If I am going to end my career and retire, it has to end how I want it, and I don’t want to retire. I am doing this on my own terms.”

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