Daniel Straus(22-5) is a Bellator featherweight on a mission back to the top of the division. After losing a title rematch against Pat Curran, Straus has a chance to climb the featherweight ladder if he can secure a victory over Justin Wilcox tonight at Bellator 127. Closely studying his opponents’ style is one of his greatest tools for victory in the Bellator Arena and we ask Straus what he sees against tonight’s opponent.
How do you feel for tonight’s fight?
Straus: I’m pumped, I feel more than ready. I had a great training camp. I’m ready to get it on.
Do you still train out of Ohio?
Straus: I’m training out of Coconut Creek, Florida at American Top Team. I have a daughter in Ohio so I go up to visit, but I come down here to train. It’s by far one of the toughest things I have to do, but you have to make sacrifices.
Is she the reason that keeps you fighting?
Straus: I won’t say I’m doing it for her, because If I’m not doing it for myself I can’t do anything for her. She’s a big reason why I push in the fight, but I can’t sit here and say “oh I’m just doing this for my daughter.” I’ll get nowhere because I’m not chasing what I need to chase. So yes, she’s a huge part of what I’m doing but she’s not everything. Some people may look at that the wrong way, but it really is what it is. If I’m just focusing on her I can’t get to the gym to train and focus on what I need to focus on. I’m focusing on being a better fighter. When I’m outside of fighting, I’m focusing on my daughter.
At 22-5 a lot of your victories have come by decision. Some fighters and spectators get frustrated when a fight goes to a decision.
Straus: People can look at a record, but many haven’t seen every fight. I’ve never been in a boring fight ever. Yeah I’ve had fights go to a decision, but they were wars that went to a decision. Did I always get the finish? No, but it’s part of the game. If you’re a true fight fan and you love MMA, you have to enjoy all aspects of it. You can’t just say I’m here for the knockout or the submission. if that’s the case you need to go to other sports. That’s why there’s a time limit, because within the rules there are three five-minute rounds to beat that person.
When fights go to a decision, do you get nervous after doing it so successfully in your career?
Straus: On one hand it makes you nervous, but that being said when I go into a fight I’m not going in to fight them round by round. I’m going into a fight to beat you up all three rounds. I’m not focused on how the outcome turns out because I know I did my job all three rounds. Maybe I won’t get the finish, but I know I got the win. I’ve never been too nervous but don’t get me wrong, there’s been a couple fights that were close. So it happens, but like I said I don’t come in looking for a half-a** fight and wins, I’m looking to win the whole thing.
Do you prefer the standup or ground game?
Straus: I feel comfortable wherever the fight goes. I don’t want to be on the bottom, but I’m comfortable there. In the judging aspect I’m losing the fight so I don’t want to be there, but I’m comfortable anywhere.
What do you make of the way modern MMA judges the ground game?
Straus: If you’re gonna judge for the sport, judge for the sport. But we’re being judged for the fans. A guy can get taken down, be held there, try for the submission and not be successful, but it doesn’t mean anything because he was on his his back. To me, did he lose that fight? Hell No. To the fans? Hell yeah. So it’s like, what are we judging for? I think that’s what needs to be cleaned up because it takes away from some of these guys’ specialties. Some jiu-jitsu guys go up against a strong wrestler and set up submissions, but can’t submit the guy. Then, they lose the fight. It sucks for them, but unfortunately it’s where they’re at right now.
Wilcox has taken a good number of decision victories as well, so how do you think this fight will turn out?
Straus: I don’t say I have a prediction, by my game plan is to go in, touch him up, whoop his a** and put him away. I don’t want to go to the judges’ scorecards or go three rounds, I want to enjoy Sunny California for a bit. I just want to go in and get the job done. If it goes to the scorecard then so be it, but I’m just gonna have to beat him every round. I’m definitely looking to put him away.
Have you closely examined his style or watched any of his replayed fights or anything?
Straus: Yeah I’ve definitely studied him. I don’t go into any fight blind. I’ve studied some of the work he’s done, some of the wins he’s had, some of the losses he’s had and where he did well. It’s all a part of what I have to do. His style is very much beatable.
Have you had a chance to deal with Scott Coker since he’s been on board at Bellator?
Straus: I haven’t personally, but I’ve heard nothing but great stuff about him. I’m hopeful that the organization is going to go in a better direction, but I haven’t seen anything that’s magically different. I don’t have anything negative to say.
(Daniel Straus (left) lands a right hand. Photo courtesy of Bellator MMA)
Have you ever considered moving up to lightweight?
Straus: I have, and I would fight at 135 if I thought I could make it. I don’t see it happening, but if a bunch of my coaches say it can happen if we did it the right way then maybe. I’m at home at ’45 right now, that’s where I’m looking to earn, win, and keep a belt.
What do you think about Bellator moving away from tournament format?
Straus: I think the tournament had its pluses and its minuses. I think it’s nothing but good, it’s gonna make matchups that we haven’t seen before. It’s gonna get the fans involved because they’re gonna get to see matchups they want to see. You’re gonna hear guys call one another out now because they have the opportunity to. But I made my name in that tournament you know? Nobody expected me to take second the first time and win the second time. So, it definitely did good. You got guys that came out of nowhere because they went through a tough tournament against hard guys and won.
If you had to pick anyone else to fight in or out of Bellator, who would it be?
Straus: Patricio Pitbull. He has that belt. That’s the only thing. If it was joe schmo that had the belt, that would be my answer. What I’m chasing is that belt, I’m not chasing any names. I don’t have a thing out for Pat because I lost to him, I have a thing out for that belt.
Do you think you’ll have to fight Pat again before you get a shot at Pitbull?
Straus: I’m not sure, I don’t know what their plans are. I was promised that I would fight for the belt after I lost it, but then I ended up having to fight Justin. I don’t hold anything to anybody, or their words to credit. If I have to fight him, then so be it. If I get a shot at Patricio, then so be it. I’m just chasing the belt.
Do you have anything else to say to fans before your fight?
Straus: I just want to thank you all for having me. I want to thank my family and friends for supporting me, I just want to thank everyone that’s been riding with me on team Straus. This has been a quite a journey and it’s just the beginning. We took on this sport years ago just to get some money in my pocket and now I’m talking about being one of the top ten contenders in the world. It’s amazing. I just want to thank everyone thats been here and supporting me.
Catch Straus vs. Wilcox at Bellator 127 on Spike TV at 9/8c live from Pechanga Resort & Casino.