Coming off a win over Rob Sinclair earlier in the year, Awad was feeling confident that a lightweight title shot was just around the corner, and didn’t perform as he could have against Freire, costing him a unanimous decision loss.
“I was trying to pick at those guys, and (the Sinclair) fight went that way, and while I didn’t go exactly how I wanted it to, I got the win,” Awad told MMAWeekly.com. “With Pitbull I was trying to out-point him, and I shouldn’t have done that.
“I thought they didn’t have the reach, so poke at them, or if they came in, take them down, and it worked once, but that’s not my style of fighting. I think I would have done that, I would have gotten the win in the last fight (against Freire), and I didn’t do that.”
Awad is intent on being a more aggressive fighter from here on out, so he avoids one of the pitfalls he had last year.
“I’m going to go back to my old roots and throw the way I know how to throw, and see how that turns out,” said Awad. “I feel like I have more in my arsenal with my kicks, and use my wrestling more because I’m more confident in it. The experience has helped.”
“I think I’m going to be stronger at this weight class and I’m going to hit harder,” Awad said. “I feel like I can take it to (Santos). I’ve got to avoid his big punches, and hopefully I can beat him to the punch. If that doesn’t work, I can grind him out.
“At 170 pounds, I feel I have the power I should have, but have more speed, and I think that’s going to play an advantage for me.”
Having stumbled in 2015 by looking past an opponent, Awad is keen to take things one step at a time and not look too far ahead of himself in 2016.
“Last year, I had a couple fights under my belt and I thought this was the title I was getting close to, but coming off a loss, I’m going back to my roots and just fight and have fun,” said Awad.
“Before I was stressing about it, worrying about it, thinking that if I lose a fight there goes my title run and this and that. Screw all that. I’ve just got to go out there, have fun, and enjoy it, and that’s what I’m going to do.”