Dillon Danis in MMA circles may be best remembered for the UFC 229 scuffle the sport would like to forget. However, the world-class grappler successfully transitioned to mixed martial arts in April, when he submitted Kyle Walker with a first-round toe hold at Bellator 198. As fans await word on Danis’ next move in Bellator MMA, here are five things you might not know about him:
1. He defeated a UFC mainstay in a grappling match.
Danis became widely known in the jiu-jitsu community for winning championships in gi and no-gi competitions, especially as a brown belt. Many fans also remember him for tapping longtime Ultimate Fighting Championship lightweight Joe Lauzon at Metamoris 6. Lauzon is a well-rounded fighter and jiu-jitsu brown belt, with 18 submission victories to his credit in MMA. Danis put him away with a brabo choke at 5:41 of their fast-paced match.
2. He was skinny as a kid.
When Danis started his Brazilian jiu-jitsu training, he was a scrawny kid who, by his own admission, could not even complete a single pushup. He admitted to occasionally skipping classes just so he could train, and when he was in school, all he thought about was getting back to the gym. When he graduated from Parsippany Hills High School in New Jersey, where he was introduced to wrestling, he started to train jiu-jitsu on a full-time basis.
3. He choked out someone in middle school.
Danis was in middle school when he was involved in his first and, according to him, only street fight. A classmate from Brooklawn Middle School was constantly picking on him, and one day, he stood up and choked out the bully. Danis said he was happy it happened because it made him realize the beauty in jiu-jitsu and how he could benefit from pursuing it full time.
4. He has called out many MMA fighters.
Danis is not one to shy away from controversies. Given his outspoken nature, it should come as no surprise that he has irked many MMA fighters, including Michael Bisping, Michael Chandler, Ben Askren, Rafael dos Anjos and even Jon Jones, all of whom are either competing in other weight classes or different promotions. It provided Neiman Gracie with ammunition to call out Danis for targeting fighters when he knows the hypothetical fights are unlikely to ever materialize. Gracie then challenged Danis, though a fight between them has not yet come together.
5. He loved reading as a kid.
Danis may have been an unfocused high school student, but he did develop an affinity for books. According to his mother, he gravitated toward biographies on former fighters, as well as political philosophers like Che Guevara. However, his favorite literary work is the classic “The Book of Five Rings,” which was written by 1600s Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi.