Kurt Pellegrino doesn't renew his UFC contract and will 'step away from the sport' of MMA

Have Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fans seen the last of Kurt Pellegrino?

The longtime mixed martial arts veteran today announced he was "stepping away from the sport" following his decision not to renew his UFC contract.

Quite simply, "Batman" is tired of fighting crime.

Pellegrino (16-6), who opened his career with a unanimous decision win over Mac Danzig at WEC 4 way back in August 2002, wants to "regroup, refocus, and rethink" what it is he wants to do going forward.

That includes participating in future grappling tournaments and if the stars align, maybe even a pro boxing fight. But most importantly, he wants to spend more time with his wife and four-year-old daughter.

Pellegrino "lets everyone know where he stands" after the jump.

"I am writing to let everyone know where I stand as far my fighting career goes. 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. 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. Even last year when I was on a three 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. I want to take the time to regroup, refocus, and rethink what it is that I want to do going forward. 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 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."

After stringing together four consecutive wins, including an emphatic submission victory over Fabricio Camoes at UFC 111 in his home state of New Jersey, Pellegrino was perhaps one fight away from becoming one of the lightweight division's top title contenders.

George Sotiropoulos had other plans.

Despite a late flurry that almost stole the fight, "Batman" was outpointed by the Aussie at UFC 116 in July 2010. He tried to rebound against Gleison Tibau back in "The Garden State" at UFC 128 earlier this year, but again was unable to convince the judges he was the better man on fight night.

Now he must convince himself he still has the desire to compete. In the meantime, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt will be keeping himself busy as a husband, father and coach.

What's your reaction to his decision to walk away? And does anyone out there in MMA land think we've seen the last of Pellegrino as a pro fighter?

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