When you think of a place that produces great mixed martial artists, and a city that houses the gyms that are full of the elite fighters, Cincinnati, is not the first city that comes to mind. However, Bellator Season 4 featherweight finalist Daniel Straus does train in Cincinnati, Team Vision, and he believes Hamilton County provides suffice places to train as a professional fighter.
“There are a lot of talented and great guys here in Cincinnati,” Strauss told Hector Castro and Manny Rodriguez on Bellator Beat Radio on the MMA DieHards Radio Network. “It’s not Florida, or New Mexico, or Big Bear, but from Jorge’s (Gurgel) camp, and my camp at Vision, to all the schools out here, we got a wealth of talent. Going to these smaller shows and seeing these guys slug it out is always fun. It’s good to give back to them, because that’s where I started and a lot of us started.”
Likewise to Cincinnati, not being known for its MMA gyms, Straus is not carrying the popularity, or big name as a UFC top contender, yet. Strauss is not searching for fame and bright lights, but he realizes if he continues to win fights, the fame is undeniable.
“If I went six more years with no one knowing who I was, that’s fine for me,” Straus admitted. “I’m here to show what I can do. I’m here to fight the person that’s put in front of me. That’s my job. Being known by a lot of people isn’t really important to me. Kissing babies and writing autographs isn’t important to me, I mean it’s fun, but it’s about fighting for me. All that stuff comes with success, so if you keep grinding and as long as you’re doing your job, you’ll be known and you’ll do great.”
Straus will undoubtedly be on a lot more peoples radars if he manages to get past Patricio “Pitbull” Freire, on May 21, at the Bellator Season 4 Featherweight Finale. The two are vying for a chance at $100,000, the Bellator Season 4 champ, and more importantly, a shot at current Bellator featherweight champion, Joe Warren. Straus thinks he has a strategy that will help him defeat “Pitbull”, yet the Cincinnati native is aware Freire does not go away quietly.
“I got to get his blood flowing and beat him to the jump,” Straus said. “The longer he lasts, the more he’s in the fight, believe it or not. He may gas or whatever the case may be, but in the third round, he’s still just as dangerous as he was in the first round. If I can get him tired, I’ll get the job done. Whatever happens, I’m prepared and I know I can get this job done.
“I don’t mind the fight going to the ground, at all. I’m very comfortable with my Jiu-Jitsu, and I know he’s an outstanding Jiu-Jitsu practitioner. I’m comfortable wherever the fight goes. A lot of people don’t believe in my Jiu-Jitsu, because I haven’t displayed it much and I don’t have a belt or any submissions on my record. I can get the job done on the ground, on the feet, in the clinch, wherever the fight goes. If I need to take him down, then that’s what I’m going to do.”
Freire’s brother, Patricky, was tearing the lightweight Bellator tournament until he met his match in Michael Chandler, at Bellator 44. Chandler did not stop Patricky “Pitbull”, but he did beat him, and took money and title shot against Bellator lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, which has to sting a little bit for both brothers. Strauss suspects Freire may come with intent on avenging his brother’s loss, but the NAAFS lightweight champion does not envision that changing the fight.
“With his brother losing, obviously he wants to come out with some vengeance,” Strauss said. “I think it’s going to be the same thing. He wants to beat me and beat me to the punch, and beat my strategy. The same way I want to beat him to the punch and beat his strategy. If what happened last weekend affects him that much, that’s fine with me, I’ll just use it to my advantage. I’ll move forward and do whatever I need to do to win.”
Strauss has a gigantic opportunity before him. To bring back a Bellator season 4 winner’s paycheck and title, along with #1 contender status, to Cincinnati, would give the city a little more MMA credibility, and make Strauss, a very happy man.
“It would mean the world to me,” Strauss admitted. “Fighting for a great organization like Bellator, and fighting great guys like Nazareno (Malegarie), and (Patrico) “Pitbull”, and Kenny (Foster). Getting all the experience I can. Obviously it would be a huge feather in my cap if I can win this and the belt. “