A very confident Dillon Danis made his pro mixed martial arts debut on Saturday night at Bellator 198 in Rosemont, Illinois, before turning his attention to potential future opponents, particularly the undefeated Ben Askren.
Askren is an undefeated former Bellator MMA and One Championship titleholder.
Danis made an appearance on “The MMA Hour” and told Ariel Helwani that despite the disparity in their resumes, he can be the one to unlock the puzzle that is Askren.
“I feel like I am the one to beat his undefeated record,” Danis said. “It would, I think, be a ground fight and it would be an easy submission for me. He does not like leg attacks. I know his game very well. I feel like he would be scared to go to the ground with me. So, yeah. I believe it would be an easy fight.”
The only issue for Danis is that Askren has retired from MMA, but recently gave fight fans hope of a comeback as he expressed an interest in facing former Ultimate Fighting Championship welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre.
On Saturday night, Askren addressed Danis’ comments on Twitter, writing that Danis feels “safe” because he knows the fight won’t happen.
He realizes this isn’t reality so he feels safe doing so. Maybe he should fight someone with a winning record first https://t.co/X2dGlYTVyI— Ben Askren (@Benaskren) April 29, 2018
Danis knows he got under the skin of Askren with the call out.
“He responded, so I wonder why he responded,” Danis said. “I’m pretty sure he’s not responding to just anybody. He knows that once he responds to me, his name is gonna be all over the place. Probably the most media he’s ever gotten.”
Even though the focus was mainly on the heavyweight grand prix main event between Fedor Emelianko and Frank Mir, Danis believes he was the main reason Bellator 198 ended up being the second biggest gate number in the promotion’s history.
“I feel like they’ve finally got their golden boy,” Danis said. “I 100 percent feel like that and I’m willing to do it. I feel like I can do something here. I feel like I have all the recipe to be different. I’ve been saying that. It’s all the things I’ve said. I really feel like no one has seen the way -- my fighting style is so different. … I just feel like I’m different in every aspect and I feel like Bellator recognizes that. They feel like they finally have their golden boy.”
Danis’ opponent on Saturday night moved to 2-5 after the loss, although it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the debutant, as Walker landed some hard punches before being taken to the ground. Danis, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Marcelo Garcia, said the punches didn’t faze him.
“I studied jiu-jitsu guys fighting over and over and over again,” Danis said. “And I knew the key to this fight was to be calm. So if you miss a shot, it’s not big deal. Stand back up, you know? In my head, Conor McGregor hit me way harder than that, way harder than that at the gym. I was like, this is nothing. I was going to keep walking forward -- I could take it.”
Danis did get a lot of media attention before and after the fight, with both Askren and former Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler taking notice. Chandler blasted Danis in a tweet stating that Danis should call himself the “most un-athletic” fighter in Bellator, rather than the highest paid.
Just catching up to #bellator198 @dillondanis said he was the “highest paid fighter in @BellatorMMA” but I think he meant to say “most un-athletic fighter in Bellator” and that was against a man with a losing record. #cringe #slow #sloth #bellator198— Michael Chandler (@MikeChandlerMMA) April 29, 2018
“They’re trying to get their name out there,” Danis said. “They have no media. They’re kind of like nobodies, so when they call my name out, they get a bunch of articles and they do all these things and everybody is kind of like, ‘Get him’ or some sh*t. I think they’re just doing that to get their name out there. I don’t think they actually don’t like me or anything. I think deep down, they probably want to be me and stuff.”