Starting out his professional MMA career at just 1-2, Daniel Straus’ (15-3) time in the sport looked like could have been short-lived, and if it had been anyone else, it just might have been. But Straus is a competitor who refuses to give up, and instead of calling it quits, he decided to devote himself to progressing as much as he could as a fighter.
Now Straus now finds himself on an 11 fight win streak, in the semifinals of Bellator’s Featherweight Tournament, and coming off a win over undefeated Nazareno Malegarie (19-1) last month.
Despite all that he has accomplished so far, Straus is not resting on his laurels, but instead he continues to train with the dream of one day become the greatest fighter in the world.
On April 16, Straus will compete at Bellator 41 against Kenny Foster (9-2) LIVE on MTV2 from Yuma, Ariz.
Foster, who is coming off of an impressive first round submission victory over decorated wrestler Eric Larkin (3-1), will test just how much Straus has progressed as a fighter since his first professional bout just two years ago.
ProMMAnow.com‘s (www.prommanow.com) Josh Cross caught up with Daniel Straus to talk about his upcoming fight, his training, his large number of decision victories, what it’s like fighting 18 times in the past two years and what winning the Bellator Featherweight Tournament would mean for him and his career.
PRO MMA NOW: First off can you talk about your training camp in preparation for your fight this Saturday?
DANIEL STRAUS: Yeah, training has been going good. I’m just working on not just my weaknesses and strengths but all around just continuing to train. I know that Kenny is going to be a tough guy and he’s also a wrestler so I’ve been picking up a little bit more on my wrestling and my wrestling defense and my takedown defense. So yeah, I’m just excited to fight.
PRO MMA NOW: You’ve stayed pretty busy competing in 18 fights since you turned pro two years ago. Does competing that often take a toll on you physically or do you feel just as fresh as you did when you went into your first fight?
DANIEL STRAUS: It has its ups and its downs you know what I mean. At times I feel really beat up and tired and it comes with the territory of fighting so much. Then at times it’s great because I’m not sitting on the couch. I’m coming into the cage pretty fresh and ready to do it all over again. So it has its ups and its downs. Sometimes after going to war and having a three round complete war sometimes I can turn around and fight again, but then there are times when I can get a TKO in the first round and it was such a hard fought fight, I can’t fight for the next two months. It all depends on how the fight goes and it all depends on how well I can protect myself and how fast I can finish this fight.
PRO MMA NOW: In your last fight you defeated Nazareno Malegarie who had been previously undefeated. What gives you more confidence going into this fight, the fact that you beat someone who was undefeated or the fact that you’re on an 11 fight win streak?
DANIEL STRAUS: I have to say that my confidence comes from the people around me. Whether I fight a guy is 19-0 or a guy that is 0-19, you know it’s going to be a hard fight regardless. Checking out some of these guys, potential [opponents], their records some people go off of it, but I really don’t. Like I said, I can fight somebody that’s just as tough as Nazareno and he not have as good of a record. So I don’t really put my confidence into it. My 11 fight win streak, that’s great. I’m proud of it. I want to keep it going, but again, that doesn’t make me confident because I could stop at any time. Eleven fights is just 11 fights and if I’m on a 100 fight win streak, ok yeah, I’m coming in pretty confident and I’m looking to do good and whatnot, but like I said, my confidence comes from the people around me, my coaches, my friends, my family. Them telling me that I’m doing well, that I’m doing good. Also them telling me when I’m not doing well and when I’m not looking good. So that’s what really makes me confident.
PRO MMA NOW: In your opponent Kenny Foster’s last fight, he submitted Eric Larkin, a decorated wrestler in the first round. Does that factor into your plan going into this fight at all, and how comfortable are you if the fight does go to the ground knowing what he did in his last fight?
DANIEL STRAUS: I’m very comfortable [if the fight goes to the ground]. Again, like I’ve told other people, I might not have a belt ranking, Jiu-Jitsu might not be my best strong suit, but this is MMA. I have trained for the ground. I’m prepared to be on the ground. I’m prepared to be on my back. I’m prepared to be on top. Just dealing with all of the things that go on in MMA, it prepares me for everything.
PRO MMA NOW: Most of your wins have come via decision. In this tournament where you’re fighting so frequently, are you specifically looking to spare your body the 15 minutes of fighting, or does that not even cross your mind?
DANIEL STRAUS: Well you know I would like to go in and finish my [opponent] in the first second if I could. I really don’t want to stay in the cage so long and get beat up and whatnot, but to me a win is a win. Some people don’t like decisions. I can’t say that I don’t and I can’t say that I do, but when you put me in the cage, I’m prepared to fight 15 minutes you know what I mean, unless it’s a title fight. And when I’m prepared to fight 15 minutes that’s what I’m going to give you, 15 minutes of fighting. Those that don’t like that, that’s because they can’t go 15 minutes and fight 15 minutes. I understand that the sport is for the fans also. They want to see awesome knockouts. They want to see nice submissions and whatnot, but the fight game is a big chessboard to me. One of my strategies and one of my go to moves is you know the decision. You might be able to beat me in the first and second round. I might not be able to get past your hands. I might not be able to take you down, but in the third round if you’re a lot more tired that me, I can explode. I can finish the fight. I can get that TKO in the third round because you’re not prepared to go 15 minutes or three rounds. Going to decision is not a big deal to me. I would like to finish my fights a little bit more, but I’m not going to put myself in a bad position, and I’m not going to go on overkill to finish a fight.
PRO MMA NOW: Do you see the fight Saturday night playing out in any specific way?
DANIEL STRAUS: I think the fight is going to go everywhere honestly. I think there will be a lot of standup. You know, he’s a good wrestler and I feel like I’m a good enough wrestler. We’re going to go tick for tack. He goes for a submission, I stop it, I’m going to go for a submission. Know what I mean? He punches, I’m going to punch, he kicks, I’m kicking. I think that it’s just going to be an all out strategy fest. Who can execute their plan the best and first, and get the job done.
PRO MMA NOW: The winner of this tournament gets $100,000 in total pay and a title shot against Joe Warren. What would winning this tournament mean specifically for you and your career?
DANIEL STRAUS: It would mean that I have begun to grow. I’ve been working so hard and even though it has only been a couple of years in this sport, everyone that knows me knows that I’ve been grinding. I’ve been working my ass off and for a while when I was on a real big hot streak, nobody cared. Nobody really knew who I was. No one took the time, and that’s fine with me. Even if I do win the tournament, it’s not the name that I need. I don’t need to be known as the best fighter in the world or whatever. I just want to prove that I’m the best fighter. So winning this tournament just means that I’m just another step closer to reaching my goal, which would be trying to be the best fighter in the world.
PRO MMA NOW: What would be the best way for fans of yours to keep track of what you’ve got coming up?
DANIEL STRAUS: Definitely. I have a Facebook. It’s funny, I don’t know if I’m going to get a Twitter or not, but if I do I’ll get one soon. Everyone has been trying to talk me into getting a Twitter page so that might happen. Other than that, VisionMMA.com has everything that is going on with me as well [like] training pictures, training videos, dates of my fights, appearances, as well as other guys on the team.
PRO MMA NOW: Are there any sponsors you would like to plug or people you would like to thank?
DANIEL STRAUS: I want to say thank you to Dr. Boynton from Everybody’s Health. I would like to thank Greg, Emily, and Dr. Kremcheck over at Beacon Orthopedics. I would like to say thank you and I love you to my mom. I want to thank all of the guys from the gym for helping me train. I’ve got to give a big thank you to Rod Housley, our gym owner, head trainer. He’s helped me out tremendously and just in life in general. To my friends out in Chicago, Tracy and Junior, I want to tell them thank you. Those guys have been great and have been rooting for me from the beginning. And I just want to thank everybody that is believing in me and supporting me, and that is standing behind me. I just want to thank them, and say thank you to Brian Furby and that group of guys for helping me on this sponsorship thing this fight.