There’s not much more that welterweight up-and-comer Daniel Rodriguez believes he could have done in his second-round TKO of Christian Gonzalez at Bellator 170 in January.
Rodriguez was able to push the pace and wear down Gonzalez, eventually leading to the finish.
“For that fight, it went exactly how we planned,” Rodriguez told MMAWeekly.com. “I knew going into that fight that I would be the better fighter that night.
“I have respect for Christian and all – I have respect for every fighter – but I knew he wouldn’t be prepared for me physically because of his weight cutting issues. I knew my conditioning would be a lot better. We went in there and capitalized on all his mistakes.”
Undefeated in his first three years of pro MMA, Rodriguez’s fight career represents a stark contrast to the difficulties Rodriguez faced in his personal life where he has dealt with incarceration.
“Growing up in the system, it is kind of hard to get out of the system,” said Rodriguez. “Fights are happening and I’m better than ever. My future is looking very bright in Combate Americas. MMA is the best thing that has happened to me. Other than my kids, fighting gives me purpose. It gives me my life.”
Rodriguez (3-0) will make his return to Combate Americas for the first time in eight months, when he takes on Joel Champion (4-0) in a main card 170-pound bout on Thursday in Tucson, Ariz.
“I’ve watched a few of Joel’s tapes, and I feel he’s sloppy,” Rodriguez said. “He’s a sloppy fighter, but on that note, I feel he can apply a lot of pressure.
“I’m expecting to go out there and bring it to him, stay composed, and not get into a brawl with him. I feel I’m the better technical fighter, so I have to remain patient. But if he does plan on rushing in, I’ve got some work for him.”
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With his life on a better path, Rodriguez now places his focus firmly on working his way up the Combate Americas ranks and becoming the best fighter in its 170-pound weight class.
“I feel that 2017 is really going to set the tone for the rest of my stay in Combate,” said Rodriguez. “I fight to win. I train to win. I train to finish. I set these goals; and my goal is to become champion.
“Signing this deal with Combate is like for all the welterweights out there, you better watch out. This is my division. I’m going to be the man in Combate at the 170-pound division – it’s mine – I’m here to stay and set the tone and make my mark starting on April 20.”