The UFC has few constants. Champions change, fighters jump from weight class to weight class, injury dropouts create a revolving door of matchups. Yet, in such an unpredictable landscape, since 2006 fans could always rely on one thing: ‘Batman' would show up at least two-to-four times a year.
However, that time appears to have come to an end. UFC lightweight staple Kurt Pellegrino (16-6) announced Tuesday that he has denied a renewal to his UFC contract, and will step away from the sport of MMA.
"I am writing to let everyone know where I stand as far my fighting career goes," he stated on his website. "At this time I am choosing to take some time off and step away from the sport as a fighter. Over my most recent fights I have come to the realization that at this point I no longer can, nor want to make fighting my first priority."
The always entertaining lightweight's career peaked in early 2010, riding a four-fight win streak into a title-eliminator match with George Sotiropoulos at UFC 116. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, the caped crusader was bested by the TUF veteran.
"Never in my career have I lost two fights in a row and my last fight's decision in particular was especially hard for me to swallow to be honest," Pellegrino wrote. "Even last year when I was on a [four] fight win streak I still was questioning myself. This has made me reconsider what my next step will be competitively. I have spoken at length with Joe Silva about my decision and have decided not to renew my contract with the UFC."
In an age in which fighters often resist retirement until the situation becomes dangerous, a la Chuck Liddell, it is refreshing to see an athlete leave this violent sport for the right reasons.
"I want to take the time to regroup, refocus, and rethink what it is that I want to do going forward," the UFC veteran explained. "I want to do things that I enjoy right now and refresh my mind. I want to concentrate on my BJJ game and improve it. I want to work on my boxing game and improve that also. I'd like to compete in some grappling tournaments again like the old days and maybe even try my hand at a pro boxing fight. I want to have fun training again, bottom line.
"Most importantly," Pellegrino finished, "I want to spend more time with my family. My daughter is four years old and I can't tell you how much of her life I've missed dedicating my life to training for fights."
In the grand scheme of things, isn't that the most noble of causes?
As a fan, I will selfishly admit that I would not like this to be last I've seen from ‘Batman' -- an athlete who always brought the fight to his opponent, regardless of the situation. However, if this is indeed the end, I would like to thank Pellegrino for the fond memories that he has stridently given us, and wish him good luck on his future endeavors.