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Pellegrino interview: Humble winner goes back to sweeping mats and teaching kiddies

Steve Cofield
Cagewriter

The life of a UFC star isn't all that glamorous. Kurt Pellegrino knows that all too well. The UFC lightweight won his sixth fight with the promotion, his first ever on the pay-per-view portion of a card. Yet after all the fanfare in front of 17,500 at the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, three days later Pellegrino was back at his Belmar, N.J. gym, sweeping up the floor. When Cagewriter stopped by Pellegrino MMA, he was getting things ready for a Tuesday class with 6-to-13 year olds. The poor guy hasn't even had his first pigout meal or drank himself into oblivion at one of the Jersey Shore watering holes yet and he's back at work.

Pellegrino was glad to reflect on what was a solid win against a dangerous opponent in Josh Neer. He was happy that he controlled things mentally which hasn't always been his strongsuit.

"Right off the bat, my boxing coach told me how to find out tough he is," Pellegrino told Cagewriter. "Jab to the face, jab to the belly, come right up top to the face with my right hand and give it everything I had. I hit him flush in the face and he looked at me like 'was that it?'"

Pellegrino said that was enough to convince him that he didn't want to slug it out with Neer. He credited his work with the Florians, Kenny and Keith, as the reason why it was easy to stay composed and move to Plan B - test Neer's wrestling.

"If he could stop me [from taking him down] then Plan C would kick in, but he couldn't."

Pellegrino said Neer never deviated from his one-dimensional gameplan:

"He was a tough kid, he took a lot of punishment in that fight, just not a smart fighter. He wanted to stand and bang. I told him in the beginning [the goal] is not to see who's tougher, it's about seeing who's smarter."

Pellegrino was the more savvy fighter in taking all three rounds. He did it in front of 287 friends from New Jersey, who he set up with a chance to buy tickets to UFC 101. He said now he wants to heal up and fight some time at the end of 2009. He mentioned names like Joe Lauzon and Jim Miller. He'd especially like a shot at a rematch against Nate Diaz.

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