Bellator Fighting Championships has announced the date for the promotion’s 73rd event which will be headlined by a featherweight title bout as Pat Curran will put his 145 strap on the line for the first time on August 24th when he faces the returning Patricio Freire. While it may not be clear who will emerge victorious that night, it is already known who will get the next crack at the title.
Season 6 featherweight tournament winner Daniel Straus spoke with MMA Fight Corner to discuss the tournament and his past history with both Curran and “Pitbull” and much more. He opened up talking about the difference between his fight with Marlon Sandro, and the decision loss to Freire in last year’s season 4 tournament final.
“I think it’s confidence, you know? I felt like I could definitely impose my fighting style, and not be scared of the guy, and not be scared of how good he is or anything like that. I just went in there with a bunch of confidence and came out with the win.”
Bellator is known for it’s tournament format where fighters have to pick up 3 wins in 3 months to challenge for the division crown. With the Spike deal, Bellator bossman Bjorn Rebney has stated that they expect to put on around 12+ tournaments a year. Straus discussed his feeling on the tournament format.
“I like the tournament format because I like to get a lot of fights in. Down the road, I’m not sure what’s gonna happen. I’ve always been a guy that likes to fight a lot so I do like the tournament format. There does come a point where you have to slow down in fights because your body’s not taking it as well, it kind of goes hand and hand but I do like this tournament format.”
Daniel has experience with Bellator’s format, making it all the way to the finals both times he competed in the featherweight series including season 4 only to be outpointed by “Pitbull”. He had no easy task this season, making it to the tournament championship once again. Straus took a moment to look back at the road to the series finale.
“Jeremy was a hard fight because I didn’t know so much about him, ya know. I only knew that he was undefeated and I knew that he was a good ground guy. So it was really hard trying to prepare for him. It was a really really tough fight. Jeremy Spoon is a really tough dude. We went to the ground and I tried a D’arce choke and he shrugged me off of that. I just feet he kept clinching me and putting me against the cage where he was really strong. It was really odd fighting him because I didn’t know where he was gonna come from.”
“Fighting Mike Corey was a big deal for me because I knew how tough he was, getting a win over him was awesome in my book, and then having to turn around and fight a guy like Marlon Sandro, it definitely boosted my confidence more and more because I felt like I was getting to a position to where I should be fighting these tough guys.”
At 20-4 (6-1 Bellator) Daniel Straus has already made a name for himself in BFC, but looks to take it up a notch. Riding a 4 fight win streak since his lone loss under the Bellator banner, Straus believes that he’s a different fighter than he was going into the fights with Freire and Curran.
“Man I just really want to see who wins this fight between Pat and Pit, you know. I don’t want one guy over the other, I don’t really have a desired fight, I just want the winner so I can get my shot at the belt. When I fought Pat it was early in my career, I didn’t have any coaches at the time. My game has evolved greatly since I fought Pat. Me fighting Pat again is definitely like fighting an opponent for the first time, that’s a good thing. As far as “Pitbull”, I’ve worked a lot on my striking, I’ve worked a lot on my ground game since I fought “Pitbull”, and most of all I’ve worked a lot on my confidence. Those are 3 things I could have went into the “Pitbull” fight with and did better with. I think it will really be a different fight if I fought either one of them.”
Unlike the UFC, Bellator keeps their champions active by booking them in non title fights. Daniel gave his thoughts on the bouts.
“They’re good, they’re not good. The only problem with non-title fights is if you lose, people are going to look at you as not really being the champion. So yeah, it has it’s ups and downs, I’m not opposed to them if I win the belt and that’s what they want me to do, then that’s something I’ll do.”
With middleweight champion Hector Lombard jumping ship to the UFC and rumors of former lightweight titleholder Eddie Alvarez doing the same, we asked Daniel about his career going forward with the Chicago-based promotion.
“Bellator’s been great to me, I don’t have any problems. As for guys like Hector and Eddie, they got to a point in their career to where they have to do more, or need to be on a bigger stage and that was their choice. I’m not opposed to the UFC or anything like that, obviously another great organization, but I am happy with Bellator.”