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PMA Trainer Kurt Pellegirno – Watch UFC Fight Night Live – Saturday, Feb. 7 on Spike TV

Premier Martial Arts Trainer Kurt Pellegrino

Premier Martial Arts Trainer Kurt Pellegrino

Don’t miss this Saturday’s UFC Fight Night Live on Spike TV, and cheer on Premier Martial Art trainer Kurt Pelligrino as he faces off against Rob Emerson. Read this story off the UFC Website:

Kurt Pellegrino – Remember The Name
By Thomas Gerbasi

I didn’t say it. The words came straight from Kurt Pellegrino’s mouth.
“I’m absolutely miserable.”

He laughs after describing himself in the days and weeks leading up to a fight. In this case, he’s getting ready for a Saturday showdown in Tampa against Rob Emerson, and Pellegrino’s chomping at the bit to get into the Octagon and build off his stirring win over Thiago Tavares last September. Now enters the ‘miserable’ part.

“I’ve trained as hard as I could for two months, I’ve put my family through hell, I’ve put my body through excruciating pain, I didn’t go to my six year old niece’s birthday party, I didn’t go out on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, I didn’t drink, I didn’t have fun, I don’t talk to my friends, I won’t answer my phone,” he explains. “When I come and fight, I’m there to get 15 minutes out.”

15 minutes. It may come as a shock to us civilians who would hope that the sooner you get out of the Octagon the better, but for fighters like Pellegrino, an intense training camp full of pain, sweat, and sacrifice can only truly be sedated by a 15 minute fight that lets him display everything he’s been working on for the previous two months at Premier Martial Arts Austin.

That was the case against Tavares, where Pellegrino came out blazing in the first round and almost stopped the Brazilian Martial Arts Kickboxing, only to get caught up in a dogfight for the next two rounds. At the end of the fight, there was no question who the winner was or that the bout was the UFC 88 Fight of The Night, and it was exactly the type of fight Pellegrino wanted in his first bout since moving back to Point Pleasant, New Jersey. And given the return home, he also got the reaction he was looking for from his father.

“I can’t believe you let him take you down,” said the elder Pellegrino.

Kurt laughs.

“That’s New Jersey. And that’s what it’s about – it’s about being tough. I had to beat guys by a certain amount of points (in wrestling) or my dad wouldn’t think I was tough. And me and my dad have one of the best relationships ever right now, but he always tells me before I leave ‘Kurt, wrestle smart.’ I have to tell him ‘Dad, I’m not wrestling, I’m fighting.’ But it’s back to normal again, I’m back to being that tough New Jersey wrestler, and I love it. I have the fighting mentality in New Jersey.”

That mentality extends to his training camp, which includes boxing trainers Mickey ‘Red’ Skowronski and Nettles Nasser, strength and conditioning coaches Kevin Kearns and Sharon Wentworth, and fellow MMA standouts Kenny Florian  and Miguel Torres. And while the days are long, Pellegrino wouldn’t trade them for anything.

“It’s all worth it,” he said. “If I lose, I don’t want to say to myself ‘did I do everything I possibly could have done?’ I was a two-time Jersey state finalist, and after every time I lost in the state finals, to this day, I’m 29 years old and this was over ten years ago, I wake up and say, ‘did I do everything I could to win? I lost by a point; did I get ripped off? Did I work hard enough? Should I have cut to another weight class?’ Now, when I fought Thiago I wasn’t able to work out at night because I was too exhausted from working with Kevin Kearns on new programs and working out with Mickey Red. Now, I’m so used to it, I work out when I would never work out before.”

He’s also continued the evolution of his style, one that saw him go from strictly a grappler, to a fighter with some dangerous hands that isn’t afraid to use them. The result has been a fighter that is quickly growing an enviable fanbase among MMA aficionados. But it wasn’t always that way for the 29-year old at his kickboxing school.

“I never stood up with anyone ever,” said Pellegrino of his early days. “I took them down and grounded and pounded. My nickname was ‘Decision Dave.’”

But in his UFC debut against Drew Fickett at UFC 61 in 2006, Pellegrino took a chance he had never taken before.

“In that fight, I don’t know what happened, but I just stood up,” he said. “And ever since I did that, I was like ‘wow, that was fun.’”

Fun for him and fun for the fans. After two submission wins over Junior Assuncao and Nate Mohr and a hard fought decision loss to Joe Stevenson , Pellegrino got a hole put in his lip by a kick from Alberto Crane, but roared back to stop his foe in the second round. An April 2008 loss to Nate Diaz was just as exciting, and he capped off his run with the win over Tavares. Now when he steps into the Octagon against the hard-hitting Emerson, he’s expected to perform an encore.

No worries, says Pellegrino.

“I really don’t pay attention to that,” he said. “I’m going out there to fight. I’m an east coast wrestler and I was the best – look at my New Jersey state record. But I don’t wrestle, I fight. And Rob Emerson doesn’t have to worry about my wrestling; I’m going in there to fight. I don’t want to

take him down. I wouldn’t want to take down a Muay Thai fighter. The UFC pays us to be mixed martial artists. I’m not gonna have the crowd boo me, fall asleep, and say ‘this kid sucks.’ I got fight of the night two times and submission of the night because I go out there and fight.”

No takedowns?

“If I see a takedown, I’m gonna take him down, but I’m not going in there thinking ‘oh my God, I’ve got to take this guy down, I’ve got to submit him and get out of there.’ No, I don’t mind punching. I’ve been wrestling my whole life and I was always a tough kid, and now they taught someone who has a good chin and a hard head how to punch, so I say ‘let’s rock and roll.’”

It’s hard not to like Kurt Pellegrino, in or out of the Octagon, due to the fact that in a world full of talkers, he delivers, win or lose. But don’t mention losing to the Garden State standout. It’s something he can’t spend one moment thinking about.

“There’s pressure from me to win,” he said. “I owe it to my family and I owe it to me. I’m 29 years old – I don’t want to lose to Rob Emerson and start back over again. I don’t want to fight on the undercard. I’m tired of it. I’m Kurt Pellegrino, and people are gonna remember my name.”

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