Article

Pineda Motivated by a Past Slight and His Future Promise

"I don’t like losing and that’s one thing nobody wants to do." - Daniel Pineda
UFC featherweight Daniel PinedaWith the majority of his mixed martial arts wins coming by way of submission, including back-to-back tap outs of Pat Schilling and Mackens Semerzier in his first two UFC bouts, Daniel Pineda could be mistaken for a lifelong jiu-jitsu practitioner, and not a guy who used to think “it was better just to punch somebody in the mouth and get them out of there quicker than trying to get somebody’s neck.”

But by late-2009, a promising career had turned into something else for the native of Dallas, Texas. In 2008, he tried out for season nine of The Ultimate Fighter, assuming that his 6-2 record and finishing instincts would earn him a place on the reality series. That didn’t happen.

“I had a good record, and I was like ‘if I didn’t make it with that, I’m never gonna make it,’” said Pineda. “So I stopped caring.”

Not that he stopped fighting. He kept accepting bouts and kept showing up, but after upping his record to 8-2 in the immediate aftermath of the TUF tryouts, he lost four in a row, three by submission. At 8-6, he was now on the road to journeyman status, or even worse, ‘opponent’ status.

“I knew I had to do something because I was getting tapped out,” he said. “I was a wrestler and all I did was take people down and pound them, and I knew in my mind that I had to work on my ground and do some standup. So I started standing up, I did the ground game, and I just picked up on everything. Then once I started getting submissions, I was like ‘oh man, this is pretty cool.’”

Crediting his family, his brother (and Strikeforce vet) Jose Santibanez and standup coach Bob Perez for getting him motivated again and keeping him in the sport, Pineda turned a corner. He went on a streak where he won seven of eight, all via KO or submission, and in January, he got the call to compete in the UFC’s featherweight division.

First up was unbeaten prospect Schilling, and if Pineda was nervous in his 97 second submission win in Nashville on January 20th, he didn’t show it.

“Knowing that I was there where I wanted to be, it took my nerves away,” he said. “When I fight in Houston (his current hometown), I always get nervous because I didn’t want to let anyone down. But in Nashville, I didn’t know anybody.”

But the world watching knew him after the impressive debut, and March, the BJJ purple belt made it two in a row in the Octagon, as he finished Semerzier with a triangle armbar in just over two minutes. Now that failed tryout in Chicago is just a memory.

“I made it to the interview but never got called back, and that put me down a lot,” said Pineda, 17-7, of TUF 9. “So when I made it to the UFC and made those two statements, I feel like I’m telling you ‘yeah, I could have made it.’”

One memory that hasn’t faded is his previous losing streak. In fact, that may just be what’s pushing the 26-year old to new heights as he awaits his UFC 146 assignment against former WEC featherweight champ Mike Brown this Saturday.

“I think about that a lot. It’s still in the back of my head and it’s not gonna go away. I don’t like losing and that’s one thing nobody wants to do.”

It’s been over two years since he saw someone else’s hand raised in a fight, and now, there’s no talk of losing from Daniel Pineda, only of winning and getting in position to become a featherweight contender, then a title challenger, and finally, a champion.

“I think if I beat Mike Brown come UFC 146, I think I should be (a contender),” he said. “But first we have to beat Mike Brown, and then we can see. But that is my goal, and it’s everybody’s goal – to get the belt. That’s what I want.”


TO GET READY FOR THE BIG EVENT, CHECK OUT THE UFC 146 E-PROGRAM BY CLICKING HERE

Watch Past Fights

Saturday, October 25
10PM/7PM
ETPT
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Media

Recent
An injury forces one of the fighters out of the competition. The Team Melendez fighters question the severity of Heather Clark's nagging knee injury. And rivals No 6. Felice Herrig of Team Pettis and No. 11 Clark face off in the fifth preliminary fight.
Oct 20, 2014
Check out Felice Herrig's week of practice leading up to her rematch against Heather Clark. Tune in to an all-new episode of The Ultimate Fighter this Wednesday on FOX Sports 1!
Oct 20, 2014
Team Melendez fighter Heather Clark prepares to avenge a 2013 loss to Felice Herrig in an all-new episode of The Ultimate Fighter. Check out her practice highlights here, then watch them duke it out Wednesday at 10PM/7PM ETPT on FOX Sports 1!
Oct 20, 2014
Chad Mendes and host Jon Anik enter The Film Room to break down Mendes’ pivotal first fight with Jose Aldo, as the number one featherweight contender readies for a rematch.
Oct 20, 2014