There's almost no one out there who was as active of a fighter in the early part of their career as Daniel Straus.
The Vision MMA featherweight competed a blistering 13 times in his first full year as a professional and he really found his groove after his seventh fight, winning 12 straight as one point which included a run all the way to the finals of the Bellator season four 145 pound tournament, in which he came up just short to Patricio Freire.
After so much time spent in the cage, he was due for some much-needed time off, and that's exactly what he did, only fighting once in the last 10 months and giving himself an opportunity to practice and improve his overall skill-set.
Now, of course, he's extremely restless to get out there and start competing actively and he'll get that shot starting this Friday night (March 9, 2012) at Bellator 60 when he takes on undefeated prospect Jeremy Spoon in the quarterfinals of Bellator's season six featherweight tournament.
Straus spoke with MMAmania.com during a special guest appearance on The Verbal Submission where he discussed fighting like he practices, what he took from his previous tournament experience and how he would like his fight with Jeremy Spoon to finish.
Check it out:
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): The last tournament ended in May and you took one fight in between that time for the NAAFS title last October against Jason Dent. How good was it to get a tune-up fight in there, get a good win on yoru record and enter this tournament with a little bit of momentum?
Daniel Straus: It was good. After the tournament, I really wanted to do this little change of pace from just fighting a lot and I wanted to give my body a slight break and get fat and then get to training again, just enjoy being off a little bit and once I'd been off for so long,
I had the opportunity to fight Jason Dent, which was a fight that was supposed to be set up a couple years ago, like last year but it always fell through so this was kinda perfect timing where I could get back in the gym and fight him and still be getting ready for the upcoming tournament and whatnot. I went up there and fought him and it was a pretty good fight and I got the victory so it feel good going into this season with a little momentum without having to think about the last time I was out here which was a loss. It's good to be going in there with a fresh mind.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said that you were disappointed with the result even though you got the win against Dent. I know you wanted to showcase a lot of the improvements in your game including your stand-up, so what was it that you were disappointed with?
Daniel Straus: Going in there, I figured we'd stand up and bang a little bit and do it all. Once I got to the ground, i wanted to work more on my jits, more on my ground and pound. I did well on my ground and pound and I did well on keeping him where I wanted him to be at but I didn't do well as far as my own gameplan, executing. I got the win and I was happy with the win but a lot of fighters out here aren't just happy with the win.
We learn things, we work on things in the gym and we work hard, going on something over and over and getting into the cage not displaying the things we've been working on, it's frustrating on a fighter's part, whether you win or lose. It's just like being a wrestler if I go in there and get taken down easily or I don't get my takedowns easily. Even if I win the fight, I'm not happy about it or I'm not impressed because it shows me that I didn't improve as much as I thought I did. Improving is more than learning, it's displaying as well.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): This is going back pretty far, but you've mentioned that you didn't fight your fight against Patricio Pitbull. Now I don't exactly want to know what went wrong against Pitbull, but what exactly is "fighting your fight" in your opinion?
Daniel Straus: It depends on who I'm fighting and the style of fighter they are. In my eyes, everyone sees me as a wrestler and an aggressive fighter. I don't necessarily want to go in there and take guys down and beat them up for three rounds but I definitely like pushing that pace and I like getting my opponent tired and I like being pushed as well, getting in my opponent's face for three rounds.
I'm not one of those fighters that want to back up or I'm shy or scared of his movements or what they can do because that's how I lose fights. I felt like the fights I lost, I hesitated because I was unsure about something they were doing, whatever it was that they did, they enacted their gameplan over mine. My fighting style is in your face and let's go. On the ground and on the feet, it's the same thing. Every time I fight, it turns around. When they look up, I want them to see that I'm still right there in their face.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You said it was nice to get a break up until this past October fight, but you really wanted to get busy after that. I think I saw you mention somewhere that you weren't just looking for one more fight after the last October fight, you were looking for five fights before the upcoming season, so are you feeling a little restless now?
Daniel Straus: Oh yeah, now I'm definitely restless. Now that fight time's coming, It's been since October which isn't a big break for some fighters but I feel like I've been sitting there for a while and after my Jason Dent fight, I did want to get a few more fights in. Walking to the Bellator cage, it's not tremendous pressure but there's pressure there. I really want to walk in there confident and I always feel that winning fights makes me real confident. I still feel confident heading into this but there's always more confidence that you can take into the cage.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Is it true that you just got cauliflower ear for the first time just in the past few months despite all those years and years of wrestling experience?
Daniel Straus: (laughs) You know what, it's not even cauliflower ear, really. It was just tender. I still don't really have it. I have a little bump on it but it's not major. It's not nice and ugly looking. After all those years of competing in sports and wrestling, I really don't have any cauliflower ear whatsoever and I like it, but I don't like it. It goes both ways.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about your upcoming fight. Jeremy Spoon is 12-0 and undefeated. He's a very talented striker and grappler so what do you know about him? He had the one televised fight in Bellator against Adam Schindler recently.
Daniel Straus: Yeah, Jeremy's a pretty good dude. He's 12-0 and he's had two fights in Bellator and did very well in both of them. Going into this fight, it's just like going into any fight. I have to be mentally and physically better than my opponent. I'm not taking anything away from him, like sayiing he's never been in the stage I've been on or anything. I'm sure he's prepared and will try to take me out and I'll try to do the same thing. I haven't seen a lot of tape on him and whatnot, but training's going good as far as what I know about him. I'm just focusing on my strong points and also focusing on my weak points and getting better.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): He's a great wrestler and your'e a great wrestler and we've seen a lot of the time that when you have a bunch of great wrestlers, it turns into a stand-up fight. Do you think that's a possibility taht we could see something like that when you guys finally meet up?
Daniel Straus: Oh yeah, definitely. I kind of see it being a really good stand-up war or a really good grappling war. I know we both don't want to just go in there and do nothing boring and give fans and the company what they're looking for. It's gonna be a tricky fight for both of us. He's gonna want to feel me out and I'm definitely gonna have to feel him out with his skills. I'm hoping it's a barnburner.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What did you take from the experience in the last tournament that you can bring into this one, something from making it all the way to the finals?
Daniel Straus: I took with me that I can compete with the best. If you look at Pitbull, one of the best in the world in my eyes, was knocking cats out, just running over guys. He was pummeling everyone and I didn't lose to him by getting knocked out or submitted. I lost to him, I wouldn't say it was a close decision, but I didn't get beat up, he didn't get beat up, he just pushed harder. That just showed me that I do belong here and if I put my talent and my mind together and what I do best, I can win these fights and I can win these tournaments and I can walk away a champion.
Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If you had a perfect scenario, how would you like the fight with Jeremy Spoon to play out on March 9th?
I hope it's a good stand-up war with a really clean knockout on the end with me being on the winning site. Instead of being nominated, I want to be winning the knockout of the year or the fight of the year.
Daniel would like to thank his friends and family and supporters. He'd like to thank his gym Vision MMA and everyone else that has helped him. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielStraus.
So what do you think, Maniacs?
Does Straus have what it takes to not only make the finals this time but win the whole thing? How do you like his chances against Jeremy Spoon on Friday night?
To listen to the complete audio of our interview with Daniel Straus, click here (begins at about the 31:00 mark).