As Daniel Straus (17-4) awaited the judges decision in his fight against Patricio “Pitbull” Freire (17-1) in the finals of the Bellator Season Four Featherweight Tournament last May, he knew even before the scores were read what the outcome would be.
“That was my first decision loss and it was also the first time that I just knew that I didn’t do what I had come to do,” Straus said. “Going into the fight I just really didn’t play my game. I more or less played his game. I wasn’t disappointed [with the outcome]. I wasn’t upset. I just knew what I had to do, and that was to get back in the gym, get back to training, and just focus more on what I needed to do instead of what other people can do.”
In the days following the fight Straus found himself back in the gym using the loss to Pitbull as motivation to sharpen his skills and become a better fighter.
“I just went back to the drawing board,” Straus said. “I definitely switched up a few things, worked like a work horse, tried to refocus myself, and figure out what was best for me. Hopefully it pays off.”
This Friday, March 9, Straus returns to Bellator for the promotion’s Season Six Featherweight Tournament coming off a unanimous decision win over Jason Dent (21-12) this past October.
In the opening quarterfinal round Straus is set to take on the undefeated Jeremy Spoon (12-0), but despite knowing that eight of his opponent’s 12 wins have come via submission, Straus isn’t worried if the fight goes to the mat.
“I’m not scared of his ground game,” Straus said. “I’m not scared of anybody’s ground game. I train a lot on the ground. I think it’s going to be a good technical fight. I’m definitely not overlooking his ability or skills at all. I just think that I can get the job done.”
And while it might come as a surprise to some that Straus, who only has one submission win in his professional career, isn’t worried about his opponent’s ground game, it’s something Straus has grown accustomed to.
“People are always underestimating my ground game,” Straus said. “For one, people have to underestimate it because they don’t’ know I have it. You haven’t seen it in many fights, but the only thing is that I’ve trained it and I’ve trained it for a while. I just really haven’t gotten a chance to show what I have.”
As for the rest of the tournament, Straus said that he isn’t letting the other match-ups or potential match-ups distract him from the task at hand.
“I’m not paying attention as far as who the others are fighting,” Straus said. “I really just try to focus on my first fight and what I have to do to win. I feel like if I get pulled into who is doing this, who is doing that, and who I might be fighting if I win this fight then I’m straying away from what I need to do.”
That’s not to say that the idea of a potential fight with featherweight champion Joe Warren (7-2) hasn’t crossed Straus’ mind at all.
“I don’t believe it’s a fluke that he has that belt,” Straus said. “He’s a tough guy and he trains with tough guys. I respect his skills. Fight wise I just think that I would beat him.”
Bellator 60 takes place this Friday, March 9, at The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino in Hammond, IN and will air LIVE on MTV2 at 8 p.m. ET. To learn more about Bellator Fighting Championships visit their website at Bellator.com.
Daniel Straus (@DanielStraus) would like to thank his sponsors BangTown Fightwear, Intimidation Clothing, Elite Cardio, On Point Athletics, Annihilation Productions, Fast Graphics, ML Management Group, The Matthew Wellington Group, Datsusara, and The MMA Outsider Podcast. Straus would also like to thank Brian Furby, the guys at Vision MMA, his friends, family, and of course the fans.