After outpointing Marlon Sandro on May 11 to capture the Bellator Fighting Championships Season 6 featherweight tournament, Daniel Straus has set his sights on capturing the promotion’s 145-pound title.
The standout 27-year-old is next in line for a shot after champion Pat Curran defends against Patricio Freire this summer. In an interview with the Sherdog Radio Network’s “Savage Dog Show,” Straus discussed his title hopes, his tournament run and more.
Straus on how his tournament experience in Bellator helped him this season: “Just making it to [the finals] the first time, it was great. This year coming into it, I just knew it wasn’t about, ‘Can you make it to the finals?’ I just pretty much could tell myself, ‘I know you will make it to the finals, and this time you will win that belt.’ I just kept the confidence.”
On the mental game involved in tournaments: “It’s a big mental game. I feel like I have enough confidence in myself where I can pick it back up and tell myself it’s time to get going. Not all fighters can do that. A lot of fighters, they need their time off. Their bodies hurt too much or they don’t want to go to the gym today because they were just there for the past four weeks. The mental part definitely does play a role in it, and that’s what makes Bellator different from any other organization. The mental toughness is what’s making these fighters emerge. Seeing these guys like Pat Curran -- he had to do two tournaments. He won two tournaments. It definitely plays with you a little bit.”
On being the underdog against Sandro: “Man, I’ve had 20 fights where I was the underdog. Every one of my wins, I feel like I was the underdog. It doesn’t bother me. When I first got into it, it used to bother me. Like, ‘What? Why won’t anybody recognize that I can do this?’ And then as competition started stepping up, I just let it go in the back of my head. If people don’t want to believe in me, then I’ll just have to make people believe in me. If it takes 10 years for people to do that, then that’s what I’ll do.”
On being underestimated again and again: “People look at my record and they’ve not seen me fight a lot and they’re like, ‘This guy’s going to go to a decision. He’s getting beat up. He’s not that great.’ But that is what drives me. I’m not a submission artist. I’m not a knockout king, but I can put on a good fight and I know I can beat great fighters. Before I get in the cage, I always think about that. I think about how far I’ve come and how far I’m willing to go and how much people have underestimated me and how much work I’ve really put in.”
On waiting to see who emerges as his opponent for the title: “It’s not like I’m sitting on eggshells, wondering who I’m going to fight next. I know it’s either one of two guys. That really helps me with my confidence. I can start working towards things that both of them are good at, and once a winner comes, then I’ll start working on who I’m going to fight next. It definitely helps.”
On what winning a title would mean to him: “It would mean so much. It’s all I’ve been thinking about. It’s all I’ve been thinking about since I got here. … If I can get that win, it will mean the world to me. It will mean the world to my family and to my gym and just to everybody who knows how long and how hard we’ve worked for this.”
Listen to the full interview (beginning at 1:03:38).