The biggest fight of Daniel Straus' (above) career awaits. | Photo: Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Daniel Straus likes proving doubters wrong, and he will have another chance to do so when he climbs into the cage in a matter of hours.
Straus will lock horns with the favored Patricio “Pitbull” Freire in the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 4 featherweight tournament at Bellator 45 on Saturday at the L’Auberge du Lac Casino and Resort in Lake Charles, La. The winner will punch his ticket to a five-round title bout against Joe Warren, the promotion’s reigning 145-pound champion.
“I like coming into fights as the underdog. I know what I can do,” said Straus, who has quietly rattled off 12 consecutive victories. “If others don’t believe in me, [then] that just gives me more motivation to go out there and prove them all wrong. I just have to work my butt off to show everyone that I’m a great fighter, and that I’m here for a reason.
“I’m always fighting for respect, but for me it’s not about what other people think,” he added. “It’s all in my head. It’s all about what I believe and think.”
Freire has proven a potent mix of striking and grappling. The 23-year-old Brazilian has only one blemish on his resume -- a controversial split decision loss to Warren at Bellator 23 in June. His considerable talents have Straus’ attention.
“I think Patricio is a tough guy, but just like anyone -- just like me -- he has some holes in his game,” Straus said. “The majority of my fights have been wars, and I don’t expect anything less out of this fight with Patricio. He’s going to be looking to beat my ‘A’ game, and I’m going to be looking to beat his ‘A’ game, so that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
The Bellator final serves as a sort of culmination for Straus.
“This fight with Patricio is a huge moment in my career,” he said. “It has taken me a while to get here, but I think I deserve it. Now, I just want to perform how I know I can and show the world that I deserved it.”
Straus will enter the cage confident in his superiority in at least one area of the fight game. A stout wrestler, he often grinds through opponents with a mixture of takedowns, conditioning and unflappable will.
“I definitely feel like I’m the superior wrestler in this fight with Patricio,” Straus said. “If he can’t stop my takedowns or if he can’t take me down, then that’s just his bad. If he can’t stop me from doing what I want to do, then that’s just something he’s going to have to work on.”
Straus has no desire to go the distance with Freire.
“I want to knock Patricio out or submit him,” he said. “I feel like he hasn’t really been tested that way, and I’d like to think that I’m the guy that can test his chin or get him to tap under pressure. He’s just as vulnerable as I am.”