“People can expect me to just go out there and go for it. I’ve never
trying to win a decision, never trying to win a round, I’m trying to end
the fight as soon as possible. Every single chance I get to finish a
fight, that’s what I’m going to do.”
Daniel Roberts is a changed man. Well, slightly modified is more like it, and credit for this modification can be partially credited to Forrest Petz. During their fight at UFC 116: Lesnar vs. Carwin, Roberts squeezed out a win over the MMA veteran via split decision, much to his chagrin.
“In my fight against Forrest Petz I focused too much on submissions and it didn’t happen, so now I’m just thinking about destroying,” said Roberts. “I’m just looking to do damage and that’s how I’m going to fight from now on. Of course I am pretty good with submissions, so if my opponent hands me the opportunity of course I’m going to take it, but I’m just looking to do damage.”
This is the quintessential definition of Roberts’ mental change from patient strategist with a succinct game plan in tow to all-out aggression in order to win by destruction. The shift was seen in his next bout against Mike Guymon, where his stunning first round anaconda choke won him Submission of the Night honors and a sick addition to the highlight reel.
“He kind of gave that to me,” said Roberts. “It was kind of surprising that he wanted to clinch with me, and I just kind of locked it up. At first I was going for the guillotine and then I switched off because whenever someone’s clinching I automatically just go to submission mode and I transition really well from submission to submission so it just worked out pretty good. My game plan was to just go out there and fight.”
In a stacked UFC welterweight division, Roberts has had to fight for recognition. Some saw the Guymon submission as a high-profile surprise win for the welterweight prospect. However, Roberts feels he is one of the best in the division. Training out of San Francisco with Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez and the Diaz brothers, Roberts looks at the other welterweights and feels ready for all challengers.
“I think my jiu-jitsu is really up there because I’m able to handle myself with Jake (Shields) and I think he’s by far the best,” he said. “I think people will see that it wasn’t a fluke with Mike Guymon. If you look at my record, most of my wins were first round submissions or first round TKOs, so I go out there and just go for it. I move really fast, so even if a guy is technically better at jiu-jitsu than me, he definitely doesn’t move better than me on the ground. And I think my wrestling and jiu-jitsu is as good as anyone’s in the division. I’m working on my stand-up, and that’s definitely my weakest point, but I’m getting better day by day working over at Fairtex.”
Roberts’ next challenge at UFC 125: Resolution is Greg Soto, a Roberts doppelganger with only one loss and a penchant to go for the submission. With Soto’s only loss coming via disqualification against Matt Riddle for an illegal up kick at UFC 111, Soto is the perfect new challenge in this battle of under the radar fighters.
“He’s kind of a similar style to me - wrestling and jiu-jitsu - but I think that his striking will be his weakest point. Its going to be an interesting fight because we both have the same strengths; I’m not going to say my stand-up’s bad, but my stand-up is not as good as my grappling so it will be kind of interesting to see what he does. I definitely think my grappling is better than his, but that’s his strong point too, so if he wants to grapple, that is fine with me. I think my wrestling is a lot better than his and my jiu-jitsu is as well.”
Roberts has even channeled his inner Muhammad Ali with a prediction for his upcoming battle against Soto.
“When I get in that cage I’m just 100% confident that no matter how tough my opponent is, I’m looking to destroy them as soon as possible. I’m thinking either first round knockout or first round submission against Greg Soto.”
Every fight at the UFC level is a must win, but no more pressing than now. Roberts’ former wrestling teammate, Gerald Harris, recently tasted the sting of a UFC cut and all fighters have that possibility on their minds. Roberts, however, sees his new fight mentality as the difference maker for his UFC career.
“I definitely don’t want to get cut, but Dana White and Joe Silva, they always say just go out there and fight, that’s all they want, that’s all they ask for and that’s what I do,” said Roberts. “Every time I walk up in that cage, I’m going to fight and I’m going to give it my all; I’m never going to give up and I just want to fight every single second that I’m in there. I’m not really worried about being cut because I know that I’m going to fight my heart out.”
As Roberts battles the rest of the welterweight division, with the fight to avoid getting cut and his own newfound strategy for fighting, he is confident the fans and the executives will enjoy his performance. Armed with the desire to “destroy”, Roberts expects nothing less from himself than the best non-stop action craved by all fight fans, and he hopes his mental redesign can aid in that quest.
“People can expect me to just go out there and go for it. I’ve never trying to win a decision, never trying to win a round, I’m trying to end the fight as soon as possible. Every single chance I get to finish a fight, that’s what I’m going to do.”