Daniel Straus is healthy and ready to fight at Bellator 138. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
It wasn’t too long ago that Daniel Straus was expected to be out of commission for the better part of a year.
He injured the posterior cruciate ligament in his knee during a fight against current Bellator featherweight champion Patricio Freire in January, and it was assumed that the rest of 2015 would be scratched.
Six months later, though, Straus is ready to climb back through the cage and lock horns with undefeated Henry Corrales on Friday in one of the featured bouts of Bellator 138. Knee injuries are certainly something not to be taken lightly, but when a fighter is as focused as Straus, things tend to heal quicker than normal.
“It was bad, man,” Straus reflected to Sherdog.com in a recent phone interview. “I didn’t want to be out that long. I really focused on my rehab and needed to get back as soon as possible. (But) it was mind-blowing, for real.”
But when the reports surfaced pertaining to the gravity of the injury, how is it that Straus went from being out for virtually an entire year to having a fight in one of the world’s biggest and best MMA organizations in half that time? When asked that very question, Straus said it was a combination of luck and determination.
“I didn’t have to do surgery, and I really didn’t want to sit all that time,” he said. “The worst injury I had was when I broke my hand and I was out for several months. All I did was sit around waiting for it to heal and it drove me crazy. I couldn’t practice, I couldn’t do this or that, and I didn’t want to go through that again with my knee. I need my knee not only for this fight but also for the rest of my life, so I just went in there and focused on my rehab and recovery. The second I felt like I could get back was the second I got back in there and got a fight. Once I got cleared I called Bellator up and asked them to get me on a card ASAP and here we are.”
Straus said that he isn’t worried about Corrales -- or any opponent, for that matter -- targeting his knee during combat. The notion is if his knee isn’t at 100 percent on Friday, any jostling or strikes could spell doom for the Cincinnatian, thus allowing Corrales to remain unbeaten and set Straus back even further.
“That’s part of the sport,” he chuckled. “When you’re injured, your opponent should go after it. But I’ve trained for that, I expect it and it’s all good. Injuries and dealing with them are all a part of fighting.”
And speaking of his opponent, Corrales has thus far passed every test given him and he’s done so with flying colors. The Californian has been smashing everybody in sight en route to a perfect 12-0 start. Only two opponents have been able to last the distance with Corrales, who can end a fight via submission or by knockout. But when asked about Corrales, Straus scoffed defiantly and stated that he hasn’t done anything noteworthy yet.
“He’s a tough fighter, he’s 12-0, blah, blah, blah,” he sneered. “Nothing new. At this point, we are all tough fighters. We may not all be 12-0, but this is Bellator, man. He’s got a good record but look at the guys he’s been fighting and then look at the guys I’ve been fighting. I’d be 12-0 fighting those guys as well. No disrespect to him at all and I’m not talking bad about him because he’s gotten the job done, but this is a whole ‘nother level. He’ll realize it because it’s his time to step up and when he does, he’s either ready or not.
“This is a different level, man,” Straus added. “I’m not one of these guys from King of the Cage that he can just walk over, that he can submit easily, or that he’s not going to have a problem with. I mean, everybody knows that’s not the truth. If you’re going to walk into the cage with me, you’re going to have a hard time, win or lose. I don’t think he’s ever been put through something like this and it’s something I look forward to.”
Straus is beyond confident that he’ll teach the new kid a lesson when they lock horns on Friday. He’s also confident that in a short window of time, he’ll be ranked right at the top of Bellator’s featherweight division. He needs this win badly, though, because he’s not only trying to bounce back from the loss to “Pitbull” earlier this year, he’s lost two of his last three. This, after starting his career 21-4 and capturing the Bellator 145-pound title almost two years ago.
Straus is quick to point out that his career is not stuck in sort of tailspin. He said he knows what to do from here on out to assure that his hand is raised at the conclusion of every fight moving forward.
“Looking back at those two guys (Freire and Pat Curran), I beat the shit out of them and still lost,” he reflected. “That’s what’s frustrating. It’s not like I can’t beat these guys because I took it to them both. I beat their asses, but in the end I didn’t get the job done. That’s what I’m focusing on right now is not only beating their asses, but finishing the job all the way through.”