Though he only had one fight in 2013, it was the biggest year in the career of featherweight Daniel Straus.
After waiting much of the year to get his Bellator title shot against then-reigning champion Pat Curran, Straus made the most of his opportunity, earning a unanimous decision victory over the man who had beaten him many years prior and becoming the new belt holder in the process.
“It was a long year for me,” said Straus. “I had to wait to fight and then to fight for the belt and win that title, it’s pretty much a big win for me.
“I think the fight went not as expected because I wasn’t looking for a decision or anything, I was looking for a knockout or submission – was trying to get him out of there – it didn’t go quite how I wanted it to, but the end result was exactly what I thought was going to happen.”
Curran had previously won their first bout in 2009, but for Straus, revenge wasn’t much of a motivation for him to even the series at one win each.
“It had nothing to do with besting (Curran) because he’d beaten me before,” said Straus. “Anybody they put in front of me I’m trying to beat. My ultimate goal is to win.
“Does it feel good to erase one of those losses? Yes. But as I said, it didn’t really play any factor in it.”
Initially it appeared as if Straus’ first title defense would come against Magomedrasul “Frodo” Khasbulaev, but due to visa issues, he was not able to participate in the fight, setting the stage for a rubber match with Curran at Bellator 112 this Friday night in Hammond, Ind.
“Once they said Frodo was out with visa issues, I kind of saw it coming,” Straus told MMAWeekly.com. “They lined it up and here I am ready to fight Jeff again.”
Much like their rematch last year, Straus feels this fight will be completely different than the previous one.
“I feel like it will be an entirely new fight,” said Straus. “To me it always is a new fight. I can’t come in and expect to do the same things I did last time and not expect him to work on new things.
“It’s going to be a new fight on my end and a new fight on his end, so we’re both coming to do what we do best to get the win.”
Even though he is the champion, Straus still feels there’s much for him to accomplish going forward should he best Curran Friday night.
“I haven’t changed a thing. I’m still the hungry guy, and there’s a lot for me to prove, a lot for me to do in this sport and in this organization,” said Straus.
“Yeah, I hold the strap, but I don’t feel like I’m the number one guy. I’m going to keep proving myself and keep beating the people they put in front of me and make my name known.”