re-UFC Fight Night 9 Interview: Kurt Pellegrino prepares
for his up-coming match vs. undefeated Wander Braga on 4/05/07
Denis Martins: You are going to fight in the UFC at 155 lbs for the second time. What do you expect from this category in 2007?
Kurt Pellegrino: I think the lightweight division is the most exciting. We might be small, but we are the most entertaining in my opinion. There are a lot of new guys entering in it, so it is very deep. It will be an exciting year for the division and we’ll start to get a good idea where all the contenders stand as the year goes on.
Denis Martins: Like we talked in our last interview, you have a teammate in the contender position in the lightweight division right now (Hermes Franca). So even though you are fighting in the UFC again, do you focus on maybe fighting in the AFC or WEC?
Kurt Pellegrino: The UFC is my main focus, as it is to Hermes. I signed a new contract with them and will continue to fight for them until it's time to move on. Hermes and I are both training hard and fighting for the goal of the UFC championship belt. My main focus right now is helping Hermes achieve his goal and at the same time try to become a contender myself. Even though we both have the same goal, we continue to work as a team to achieve what we can. I support him 100% and he does the same for me. Either way an Armory fighter will be holding that belt soon, and that is all that matters to both of us.
Denis Martins: Also, Franca is the current AFC champion, it seems he is your main obstacle to get an belt in the UFC or AFC. (laughs) Doesn’t Hermes?
Kurt Pellegrino: Yes, that is one downfall of me and Hermes fighting at the same weight, but that is about the only bad thing. We both are each other’s best training partner and it works out perfect for us and our team. At the end of the day, Hermes is my brother, my family, and I am lucky to have him and to have my whole team. Hopefully he thinks he is lucky too (laughs). Hermes is paving the way for me and for our team, I know I won’t disappoint. I can guarantee that by this time next year that 155 pound belt WILL be sitting at The Armory, no matter who is the "champion", the belt will be ALL of ours. Hermes and I know that it is not just us out there fighting it is our whole team, our coaches, our manager, it’s a team effort always. But it’s a guarantee that one of us will be bringing that belt home to Jupiter, Florida this year! Maybe we’ll both get to bring it home once. That would be awesome.
Denis Martins: Talking about your next fight, with Wander Braga, how long have you been preparing yourself and how is your conditioning now compared to you last fight against Junior Assuncao?
Kurt Pellegrino: I got the call about Braga a couple weeks ago, which is a little more time than they gave me last time, so I know my conditioning will be better than ever of course. It is about 8 weeks of training so I am preparing strategies with my team and have been training hard already. I have always been training though, helping Hermes prepare for his fight with Spencer. So there is never any real down time, but now its on. I’m always training like I’m going for the belt, the day I train less is the day I retire. Wander doesn’t get to train with the #1 contender of our division, I do and I’m lucky.
Denis Martins: You ducked Wander Braga a lot in our last interview, this is time will you prove that you were right about him?
Kurt Pellegrino: I think you mean I avoided speaking about him in our last interview? I do not want to talk trash about him or anyone really, I do respect him just like everyone I fight. But last time we were supposed to fight at UFC 64 and he pulled out about a week and a half with no explanation. I think that was unprofessional and I took it personally. Luckily, Joe Silva was able to find a replacement for him. I trained really hard for 6 weeks and when you think you may not fight and all your hard work is down the drain it is really irritating and it just fueled my fire towards him. I understand injuries happen, but he was 100% healthy from what I was told.
Denis Martins: What do you really think about him and why you have will to fight him?
Kurt Pellegrino: I think he is a good fighter. He is undefeated so that does say something about him. I have heard he is like the Royce Gracie of 155 and I respect him as a fighter and I respect his talent. I am motivated to fight an undefeated fighter and I’m just really ready to beat him convincingly, so I can move up in the ranks in the division. I’m not looking past him, he will be a tough fight, but I know I have what it takes to beat him and that’s what I will do. He’s just another road block I have to get by. I am in this division to stay and no one is going to stand in front of me right now.
Denis Martins: Braga mentioned the UFC offered him your name and he liked the choice and the opportunity of fighting you. Do you think the words you said about him motivated him to fight you?
Kurt Pellegrino: Even though I want to laugh at that, I can not. I take that seriously, but I think, no I KNOW he picked the wrong opponent. Now that you have told me that, I feel even worse for him. I feed off of stuff like that so you just added another hour to my training tonight and tomorrow and from here on out! Haha! Maybe you can ask him that question after the fight is over and see if his answer is different. I am not sure what "words" I said about him that would motivate him. After hearing he dropped out last time with no excuse, I said I thought he was afraid to take the fight, and I still feel the same way. He is probably a really good guy and hopefully he will be ready and motivated to fight me this time. If he is not afraid, he should be.
Denis Martins: Since you said you wanted to fight him since last year, how have you imagined beating him in your mind?
Kurt Pellegrino: I am not going to tell you my game-plan, but I have been working on all aspects of my game, some more than others. I might want to beat him at his own game or I might stand up with him and look for the knock out. Let’s see if he can take me down. You might be surprised at what you see from me.
Denis Martins: Batman, you have fought in the UFC twice and you are going to fight at UFC Fight Night 9 next. Do you see differences or you only can tell me after the show?
Kurt Pellegrino: Well, yeah I guess I can only tell you what the differences were after this fight. But I can say that I feel so much different preparing for this fight. My first fight in the UFC against Drew Fickett was a war and I knew what and who I was preparing for in my debut. My second fight was good training but at the end when the opponent changed it kinda screwed with me mentally a little bit. I didn’t know if Junior was gonna be able to even make weight, so I did not really know if the fight would go on or not. For this fight my training is going awesome and I am feeling great. I have a clear head and I know I am going to be the one to give Wander Braga his first loss.
Denis Martins: Do you have any last words?
Kurt Pellegrino: Watch out for one hell of a fight, it will be explosive. UFC - put us on the main card, you will not be disappointed!! Gotta thank The Armory for being best training team in world Hermes, Raphael Chaves, Wald Bloise, "Guedes", my manager Joe Mullings, and all the rest of the team for helping out when we need them. All my sponsors too, Grapplers Quest, NoGi, Premier Martial Arts, and everyone else I’m forgetting. No rest for the best!! Thanks Denis!