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Exclusive: UFC exit interview with Seth Petruzelli

Seth “The Silverback” Petruzelli (12-6 MMA, 0-4 UFC) has been in the MMA game for over a decade. After years of paying his dues, the world was forced to take notice of him one one warm October night in 2008, when under a very strange twist of fate, he found himself fighting one of the biggest superstars in the history of MMA in the main event live on CBS in prime time.

It took Seth just 14 seconds to knock out street-fighting legend Kimbo Slice and show the world what a true mixed martial artist was all about. Two fights and two first round stoppages later, Seth was back in the UFC, poised to make a run at UFC gold and more importantly, once and for all make his mark on the sport at its highest level.

As we all know though, MMA may be the most unpredictable sport on the planet. For someone who has a near flawless record outside the UFC, Seth’s results inside the Octagon have been exactly the opposite. After a submission loss to Ricardo Romero at UFC 116 in July and then a TKO loss to Karlos Vemola at UFC 122 earlier this month, Seth Petruzelli was released from his UFC contract.

ProMMAnow.com spoke to Seth this week to confirm the news of his release, get his thoughts on UFC curses and find out if he has any ideas about what may be next or where he would like to go from here.

Pro MMA Now: I’m sorry that it’s under these circumstances that we’re talking, Seth. However, you just confirmed with us you just got off the phone with Joe Silva and you indeed have been released by the UFC. If you don’t mind me asking, what was that conversation like, what was said and did it sound as if they left the door open for you?

Seth Petruzelli: The conversation was fine, he told me that due to WEC merging with UFC that he had a lot of people to let go and that since my last loss I was one of those people. My name is always on his list he said, so I’m assuming that means win more outside UFC and I”ll be back.

Pro MMA Now: You are still young, and since you haven’t lost a fight outside the UFC since 2001, that shouldn’t be too hard for you. Would you like to try to pick up a few wins and get right back in there, or would you like to try something different?

Seth Petruzelli: Not sure at this point, I’ve been in MMA for 11 years now and it has been great to me. These past 11 years have been better than some men’s entire lives, so I am very thankful for MMA. I have a lot of soul searching to do.

Pro MMA Now: In the past, often times fighters have gotten released after three losses in a row. I know there’s no set rule or anything. In fact some guys get released after one fight. Did they give you any indication of why now and not one more?

Seth Petruzelli: I’m guessing cause he has only a set number of allotted people per weight class he can keep cause of the merger and I guess two losses was enough to seal my fate.

Pro MMA Now: Only one of your 12 victories have come by decision. You knocked out 10 of the 12 and submitted the other one. You definitely have an exciting style. You have great striking. And you have won almost all your fights outside the UFC. What do you think it is about fighting in the UFC that has been the biggest challenge for you; Is it just the level of competition or is there more to it?

Seth Petruzelli: No, it’s mental, it always has been mental. I do fine in the training room with top level guys. I guess I’m a mental midget with the UFC and the pressure it puts on me. Either that or I’m cursed… and I don’t believe in curses.

Pro MMA Now: Can you talk a little about the fight with Karlos Vemola at UFC 122 in Germany; were you feeling okay going into the fight? Did you feel a 100% and what did you think went wrong?

Seth Petruzelli: I cut more weight than usual. Besides that, just the normal nerves of a UFC fight. I felt like Ii could sub him at any point while on my back. I just went black from him hitting me once! I suffered a concussion two weeks before fight… maybe my head wasn’t ready.

Pro MMA Now: You’re about to turn 31-years-old here in a few days right (Dec. 3)? You’ve been fighting professionally for over ten years now. Ideally how long would you like to keep fighting? Some guys have a date in mind like BJ Penn has said by age 35 he wants to retire and then there are other guys who will fight until they just physically can’t do it any more. Have you thought about how long you would like to keep fighting?

Seth Petruzelli: That’s the conundrum I’m going through now. I think as soon as my other endeavors (my gym, radio show and commentating) money equals fighting. But my body is hurting now…

Pro MMA Now: So where do you go from here Seth? Strikeforce has a great promotion going on. There’s Bellator and then the Japanese organizations. Ideally, if you could take your pick of any of those, where would you most like to fight and why?

Seth Petruzelli: Not sure at this point… I have about four offers in my inbox right now; even a pro boxing debut. So I have to sit back and see what will be best for me.

Pro MMA Now: You first fought for the UFC in 2006, then again in 2007. You’ve fought in Brazil. You’ve fought in England, Germany, and you’ve been doing this a long time. What has it been like for you this year, being back on the big stage, fighting and traveling the world; what has this whole experience been like, seeing how much the sport has grown since you first started and then being part of the sport’s premiere organization this year in their prime? What has this experience meant to you?

Seth Petruzelli: It means everything to me… I feel cursed and blessed at the same time. Blessed that i could do all those things when 99% of people can’t. And cursed cause I could never make anything happen when it really mattered in the UFC.

Pro MMA Now: Is there anything else in the world you would love to do or could see yourself doing besides being a fighter? When that day does come, hopefully many years down the road, when you hang up the gloves from professional competition, would you still like to be involved with the sport training fighters, running a gym – I think you’ve done some commentating too, right? – Do you see yourself staying involved with the sport in some capacity?

Seth Petruzelli: Yes I always see myself in the sport somehow; either with my gym, The Jungle MMA and Fitness, and also training my fighters. I also see myself having a great personality, so radio or acting!

ProMMAnow.com: Seth, thank you for talking with us. I wish you the best of luck. If there’s anything you would like to add to this that I haven’t mentioned or any sponsors or friends you want to shout out, go right ahead.

Seth Petruzelli: Thanks to all my fans! I get a great feeling of accomplishment when I get your fan mail or asked to get a pic taken with. I love to entertain and that why I do what I do. Please follow me on Twitter @silverbackseth and please “like” my Facebook Fan page “Silverback Seth Petruzelli.” – P.S. Darwin rules!! EVOLVE PEOPLE!!

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