|08-23-2007, 01:48 AM||#1|
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One on One with Kurt Pellegrino
Kurt talks about his match with Joe Stevenson at UFC 74.
A two-time State wrestling finalist from New Jersey and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt under Hermes Franca, Kurt Pellegrino, (10-2) is on a three fight win streak and has a title shot in his sights. With a new wife and a new baby girl, Kurt?s looking to make his mark as a fighter and earn some hard-won security for his family.
A very dynamic and dominating fighter, winning all of his victories in the first round except a 3 round decision against Mac Danzig at the beginning of his career, Kurt caught the attention of UFC matchmaker Joe Silva, and came to the UFC. Finally in the UFC, Kurt faced Drew Fickett at 170lbs. Kurt fought his heart out for two rounds, but finally succumbed to the much larger fighter. Then a miracle happened, and the UFC revived the dormant 155 pound division, and Kurt had a new home. Now the division is the most stacked division in MMA history, and talented fighters swarm for a shot at the UFC title.
Kurt faces his biggest challenge yet in Ultimate Fighter winner, Joe ?Big Daddy? Stevenson. With the winner of the match sure to be top of a very competitive field of contenders, both fighters must feel this fight culminates everything they?ve worked for up until now.
Bloodyknux- Starting off with the important details of your training, what color hair are we going to have come fight night?
Kurt Pellegrino- (Laughing) Should I keep it a secret until the weigh-ins? No, It?s purple. I?ve got you on speaker because I just did it.
BK- Very cool, how?s married life treating you?
KP- It?s great, got my new baby girl sleeping here beside me.
BK- Congrats on the baby. Last time I talked to you, was before Hermes fought Nate Diaz, and you called that fight like you?d already seen it. How?d you like Nate?s performance on the Ultimate Fighter?
KP- He impressed me. I was pretty happy for him. Hermes submits him, and then he goes on to win the whole thing on the show.
BK- You haven?t been out of the first round for a while, you aren?t getting too cocky for Joe Stevenson are you?
KP- No, I?m taking this fight like I took the other two, those guys played into my game. Once I got them to the floor I knew I would submit them, but with Joe, I don?t know where this fight will go. It?s so evenly matched. I?m looking forward to wherever this fight goes. I hope the fight ends in the first round and my hands raised.
BK- Obviously he has great wrestling and a slick ground game. How is Joe going to stand up with you?
KP- He?s an improving fighter. Everyday and every fight that he has, he?s going to get better. If this is going to come down to cardio and conditioning, Regardless of whether he?s doing a lot of wrestling, or a lot boxing and jiu-jitsu, I think at the end of the day it?s going to come down to who is in the best shape.
BK- You?re the underdog going into this one. How does that make you feel, do you want to win to throw it in people?s faces?
KP- You know, not throw it in peoples faces, but my friends? sometimes I want to punch them in the face. Every time I go tell them who I?m fighting, they?re all like, ?Really, you?re going to fight Joe ?Daddy? Stevenson?? I get tired of hearing it, to be honest. I know he?s a great fighter, but I thought my friends thought I was pretty good too. I guess I?m not as good as I thought I was. I think I really match up really good with Joe, but I guess (him) being on TV and winning ?The Ultimate Fighter,? beating Yves Edwards, submitting Mishima, makes me the underdog. He?s a big 155, but so am I. I?m a very big 155 pounder, I don?t think he understands how good of a wrestler I am. People are surprised at how strong I am, and that?s because I?ve been wrestling since I was 5 years old. I wrestled two weight classes up to get a work-out, because I beat everyone in my weight class. If Joe makes this a wrestling match, I think I?ll win this fight. If he makes it a stand-up fight, I don?t know what will happen. I don?t know how good he is. I don?t know what kind of a game-plan he?s bringing. This is the first fight I?ve ever had that I don?t have a game plan. If he wants to go to the floor, I?m going to defend it. If he can?t defend my shot, I?m going to take him down. If neither one of us is going to shoot, I guess we?re going to punch. I really don?t know what?s going to happen. Hopefully, I can take him down and overwhelm him, but I?m preparing for anything.
BK- On the card Saturday night we have another exciting 155lb match with Clay Guida and Marcus Aurelio. Who takes that one?
KP- That?s going to be a good fight. I?m looking forward to that one. I like Aurelio and Guida. I?m going to go anti-Jitz and go with the wrestler on that one. I think he won his last two fights. I think he beat Tyson Griffin, and he and Din had a great fight. That was a close one to call.
BK- Speaking of Din, That brings me to my tough questions. You and Hermes were with ATT in Florida and then you split off and form the Armory in Jupiter. Why the split?
KP- Hermes gave me my black-belt. I was ATT and so was Hermes, I don?t know what the problems were with the Brazilians in the very beginning, but Hermes saw how good I was, and I was training down there full time. I think they were having problems connecting the right way. Like an old girlfriend, you try to get back together with her, but it just doesn?t work out. I wasn?t going to deal with the politics or anything like that, and Hermes gave me my black- belt, which I felt I rightly deserved. I?d lost like twice in my life in grappling. So he gave me my black-belt. I took it, and there were problems. I didn?t want to be around the politics, and I was never going to give my black belt away. I saw something in Hermes that I hadn?t seen in a long time, and I trusted him so much. That?s when we formed the bond we have, I stuck by him, he had lost like six straight fights. That didn?t matter to me, what mattered was the person, and he always treated me well.
BK- Speaking of Hermes, he?s had a tough couple months. A frustrating loss to Sherk, and the positive test for steroids, how?s he doing, and how?s he dealing with the suspension?
KP- He?s just helping me train. You couldn?t even tell. He?s upset for the circumstances, but we really haven?t really talked about it. I kind of made fun of him about it a little bit here and there, I laughed at him about it, but really we?ve just been training, getting ready for my fight. That?s his only concern right now, is training me, and bringing guys in to train with me. He didn?t even tell me about it. I had to find out, and then we talked about it. He was like let?s just worry about what you got to do, and we?ll deal with this problem later.
To be honest with you, he really doesn?t say anything. It?s just been training.
BK- You mention Hermes is bringing guys in to train with you, who?
KP- Jeff Prescott, 2 time national champ from Penn State. This guy is amazing, all these crazy wrestlers, a couple of Olympians. I went old school for this one. I?ve never felt this good in my life. I hope I don?t knocked out in two minutes, and I hope I don?t knock Joe out in two minutes, because I want to see how good shape I?m in. I want to see if I can go fifteen minutes full bore all over him.
BK- Don?t pass up a finish to do that.
KP- I won?t, if I see a way out, I?ll take it. I realize, and I know Joe realizes, that this fight puts one of us in the number one contender spot. This fight is my life, this puts my stamp in the concrete. This is the mortar. This is for my wife and my child. It?s not just a shot at the belt, that?s just a little piece of the puzzle. This make me money, this makes me survive. I?m not fighting for a title, I?m fighting for my life. To make my life, to make my life easy.
BK- BJ Penn is staying down at 155, and if Sherk gets cleared of his steroid charges they could be the next big title match. Who takes home the belt.
KP- If Sherk and Penn ever fight I have to go with the Prodigy. In my eyes, I think BJ is the best fighter in the world. I hope they fight and Penn beats him, because I would like the opportunity to fight the best fighter in the world. Win or lose, in my eyes I can say I?ve been there and done that. Hopefully when I do fight him, he doesn?t read this and think that I?m some cocky kid from Jupiter Florida, then takes me down, passes my guard and chokes me out you know? I?ll make it a great fight for the fans I?m sure of that, but BJ Penn, he?s amazing. Of course if I take the fight, I honestly believe I can win.
BK- What would Hermes or BJ Penn need to do to get over Sherk?s dominant takedown and controlling ground game?
KP- They would have to be Kurt Pellegrino. If I fought Sean Sherk, he would have to take me down, and that is something he won?t do. They?d have to be able to take Sean Sherk down, and that?s something I know I can do. I like Sean Sherk, he?s a great fighter, he?s explosive, a machine, a monster. His neck is bigger than my butt, and I have a gigantic butt. If they want to beat him, they need to take him down, and go old school and wrestle. You could stand up with him and beat him up. I think that?s where Penn has a huge advantage, because he?s so hard to take down. That?s what I bring to the table with my wrestling, you can?t take me down, but if you do, I have my BJJ black belt so be careful what you wish for.
Catch Kurt?s match with Joe Stevenson at UFC 74 Respect Saturday August 25th live in Vegas or on PPV.
Check out our exclusive UFC 74 coverage including Antoni Hardonk and Kendall Grove interviews on the front page.
Tune in to the UFC 74 discussion here.
Big thanks to Kurt for taking the time to talk with us, Melissa for providing us with pics, Mia Wallace for help with questions, and Rachel as always for the time to put it all together.
-Jim ?DC Books? Kirkland