UFC 146: Daniel Pineda - On a path to Greatness
Daniel Pineda has made his case to many people in Houston and throughout Texas that he belongs in the UFC octagon. His most recent victims consist of Pat Schilling, Mackens Semerzier, and next in line is Former WEC Champion Mike Brown at UFC 146. Fighting at the highest level, on the biggest stage, and in the biggest promotion for MMA in the world has given everyone the chance to realize Houston’s own Daniel Pineda is truly on a path to greatness.
Getting there took hard work and the Houston native is “getting better every day!” As seen with his last 7 fights both in stardom from Legacy Fighting Championship to his debut and profound announcement in the UFC as he proclaimed and has proved “I belong here!”
Pineda always has a smile on his face which has been more prevalent as of late due to his dreams coming to fruition before his eyes. When asked what it meant to be fighting on the card at UFC 146; “You know…it means a lot!” “First of all…it’s Mike Brown” as he recalls watching him on TV, saying about him and Urijah Faber, “I am going to fight them one day; and here it is.”
With continuous steps up in competition from Legacy to the UFC and now a match up against the former champion, we wonder what, if anything, has changed in his training. “The most important part of training is Cardio,” with the one difference this camp being adding a 1-on-1 Cross Fit training with the people at Meltdown Houston. He says that “they have put together an MMA thing for me,” and the 1-on-1 training is a must.
Pineda has now had 2 masterful performances in the UFC within 6 months. Both fights he finished handedly in the first round which has earned him a 3rd fight in his brief stint in the UFC. This next test is the biggest step against the former WEC Champion Mike Brown. He understands the opportunity. It has helped Pineda coming from Legacy where “I came from having belts, to being at the bottom of the ladder.” He was pulled from Legacy Fighting Championship having held the 145 and 155 belts, but this fight is another just another step, “moving up the ladder and getting another belt.”
Going into the fight with Brown, many wonder if size is going to be a factor. When asked about it; Pineda said, “they say he is the strongest 145er out there. I am pretty strong too. I am excited about this fight!” Moving further into the discussion Pineda says simply, “We’re both wrestlers, we’re both pretty strong, we both like to throw crazy punches, we throw to finish fights. I think that is one thing that makes this such an exciting fight.”
“We fight almost the same way, he likes to bully people and I like to bully people.” He says “I am always going forward, pushing the pace.” One way he is able to do this is through his ever improving striking game. Pineda has developed a direct and hardnosed striking style that has allowed him to be able to “mix it up”. The bottom line though…”I am still a wrestler,” “it’s where I started.”
After Wrestling in High School, Jose Santibanez, Pineda’s brother encouraged him to try out MMA. He said “my trainer told me, 'you have very heavy hands, you want to try this?' I said yeah. Six months later, I fought.” He won his first fight and was hooked. Pineda displayed that he is most certainly able to mix it up in the Octagon. In the Mackens Semerzier fight, he stopped Semerzier harshly in the first round. His submission victory was made possible through his striking, stemming from a powerful left that created the opening Pineda needed to lock in a triangle alongside a vicious armbar. This was the second first-round finish. Both finishes were done in dominant fashion. These flawless submissions further prove that Pineda does indeed belong with the elite fighters in the UFC continuing on a path to greatness because “it is a step up, and it’s going to prove a point.”
He loves the excitement and the attention that comes with fighting. When asked, why fight for a living, He simply says “money!” “You have to like it and I have always been competitive but it’s the money…money talks to me!” While money in MMA is a controversial subject for many, it is true that when people fight and when they put on a show, they get paid fairly well. Pineda says that he wants the bonuses.
Everyone knows when you help draw a crowd you get paid. He says, “you put on a good show and you are going to get fans, put on a good show and they will like you. People love the UFC, there are so many fans there, you look up and you see thousands and thousands of people cheering. I love the feeling, being there in the UFC.”
With all those people watching, how can it be possible to remain relaxed? Pineda says walking in there are a few nerves, but the closer you get to the cage, the less nerves there are. “Once you are in the cage, everything shuts off. I am in the zone.” This relaxation has kept Pineda mentally sharp at all times in the cage. “I am going to go in there and try to finish the fight, no matter what happens, that is why I don’t get that nervous. Other people are nervous because they don’t want to lose. I don’t care; you know…I am going in there to prove a point.” Finishing the fight is what he is there to do and nothing will get in his way.
With this mentality and fighting skills that are just as sharp, Pineda along with everyone else knows one thing about his fighting career. “This is my future. If I want to keep on fighting then I got to win my next fight.”
Daniel Pineda wanted to make a point to thank everyone who has helped with his training. He points out a special thank you to his brother Jose Santibanez, 4 oz Fight Club, Meltdown Houston, his trainers and his sponsors.
Photo 1 Courtesy of TXMMA.com