Since he began fighting for Bellator five years ago, Daniel Straus has experienced the very highest of highs the sport has to offer, as well as some extremely heart breaking defeats.
He made it to the top of the mountain at Bellator 106 in November of 2013, when he defeated Pat Curran, only to lose the title in a rematch in his very next fight at Bellator 112, getting submitted in the last minute of the fifth round. The American Top Team (ATT) fighter made his way back to a title fight again, but fell short in a loss to Patricio Freire at Bellator 132, again by submission.
Straus looked great early on in the fight, but it just wasn't enough to reclaim the title and he would be forced to go back to the drawing board. The former champion knows what it takes to win the title having held it once before, but now he has to learn how to win it a second time. The loss to Freire got to him at first, but he still believes he can get back to his winning ways and he recently explained to MMAmania.com where he is at mentally ahead of his Bellator 138 fight against Henry Corrales.
"You know what, initially it was tough, but I doesn't hold any bitter taste in my mouth or anything like that," said Straus, who was at the Wow Factory, a children's party center, with his daughter Makayla to celebrate her third birthday. "He got the job done, what a champ should do. On the other hand, I actually went in there and did exactly what I said I was going do and that was beat the shit out of him, which I did.
"I wish I could go back and get that win, but I just have to move on. I'm not frustrated. I just have to work harder and learn from my mistakes. I can't keep losing the same way. I can't keep losing period. I can't keep fighting these guys at a top level and dominating these matches and then losing. It's really hurting my career. I really don't feel any certain type of way about it, negative or positive. It happened, move on. My next fight is going to be another great fight and that's all I can think of. I'm just trying to build on everything I'm doing and everything I'm learning and doing that."
Straus, 30, is now 23-6 (9-3 Bellator) and will take on undefeated prospect, Corrales, at Bellator 138 on Friday evening (June 19, 2015). The two pillars that are the foundation for his return to the title, he says, are hard work and being focused, with a strong emphasis on the latter.
"I thought I was focused enough to get in there and get the job done (against Freire), but obviously, I wasn't," he admitted. "That's what I'm learning from: being more focused. Everyone knows I can get in there and get the job done. Everyone knows I can compete with the best. Everyone knows I can go five rounds. Everyone knows I hit hard, everything. I have to be focused enough to finish these fights. That's what I have to keep working hard. That's the difference for me getting back to the title and winning the title again and keeping the title."
Not that there is ever any solace in losing for a fighter, especially a title fight, but knowing he has won the featherweight strap before as opposed to never doing so, does help his confidence and provide him with the reassurance that he can get to the top again because he's been there before.
"Everyone knows I can get the job done," Straus said. "I know I can get the job done. I just have to get the job done."
And the next order of business is Corrales, who is 12-0, but making his Bellator debut and taking a big jump up in competition against a seasoned veteran such as Straus. The former featherweight champion respects the newcomer, but is confident the Brazilian won't be making a splash in his promotional debut by defeating him in St. Louis.
"It's going to be a good fight, a big-time fight," he says. "He's one of those guys… They say styles make fights and this is one where the styles make for a good fight. He's going to push forward. He's a tough cat, 12-0, but I don't really see… He's biting off a lot for his first major competition. I'm not saying that he won't be able to shake it up with guys like me or whatever, but I'm a different mindset.
"He wants to make a name for himself, that's fine, that's good, everybody at one point needs to make a name for themselves, but I'm not that guy. I'm past making a name for myself. I want to mention, I've been to the top. I want to get to the top. I've fought guys that are at the top and I have dominated those guys. That's what my focus is. I'm not looking past him, but getting the job done to get to where I need to be. I think the fight is obviously going to go in my favor."
Corrales has finished 10 of his 12 opponents and six have come by way of submission. Straus may have been submitted in two out of his last three fights, but he's a well-rounded veteran who is more than prepared for each facet of the game. If Corrales wants to go to the ground, he's more than happy to oblige the Brazilian.
"I hate to say it, but it's not like I'm scared of anybody's jiu-jitsu, period," he said. "No matter what has happened in the past. If you want to take me down, that's fine. If he doesn't want to throw hands, that's fine. If he wants to take me down then obviously he hasn't done his homework and doesn't know how I made my name in this fucking division in the first place. Wherever it goes, I'm winning."
Straus has been part of many memorable battles inside the Bellator cage and the featherweight title has very much been a revolving door the last two years. Straus defeated Curran for the title; Curran won it back in the rematch and was dethroned by Freire in his next fight. The trio of fighters are all very talented and Straus has been in two scraps with each of them in Bellator. He, of course, feels he is the best out of the three, but he knows because of how evenly matched they all are, that any outcome is possible when the cage door closes.
"It's all who shows up on fight night and how we show up on fight night," he said. "Who is healthy, whose mindset is ready to fight and things like that. Honestly, I just think I am better than those guys I just haven't been able to get the job done. I think those guys are great fighters. Obviously they always bring out the best of me. Pat Curran has brought the best out of me. Pitbull has brought the best out of me. Really, really good fights from me against those guys I just keep ending up on the bottom. With Curran losing against Pitbull, it shakes things up a bit and opens that door a little bit for other guys to get in there and make some noise and what not. That '45 division, there is talented guys all over that roster. Any given night I just have to bring it."
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