Daniel “The Pit” Pineda is the first home-grown Houston product to make it to the UFC since Mike Swick back in 2005. He made quick work of his first two UFC opponents, winning both fights with first round submissions. After losing a well-fought decision against his most experienced opponent to date in Mike Brown, Pineda is making a quick turnaround to fight Canadian black belt Antonio Carvalho at UFC 149 tomorrow night. I got the chance to interview Daniel before his fight, which you will be able to see on Facebook on the preliminary portion of the card.
Legacy: The last time I got to interview you, you were just about to fight Rey Trujillo. A lot has happened since then. That fight started a 7-fight win streak and you are now in the UFC. What do you think turned things around for you and got your career back on track?
Pineda: I made a decision to expand my game, and chose to accept martial arts as a serious career path.
Legacy: You blitzed through your first two opponents in the UFC, getting first round submissions in both fights. Were you surprised at how quickly you adjusted to fighting on the biggest stage?
Pineda: No, I take fights and expect to finish fights no matter what level.
Pineda: I learned a lot from that fight. Mainly, I learned that I can contend with the best in the world. Now my confidence is higher than ever. I’m letting it all go this fight. I’m leaving everything in the cage.
Legacy: You decided to take the fight with Antonio Carvalho on short notice, and this will be your 5th fight in 7 months. Were you expecting to be so active this early in your UFC career? Do you prefer to fight more often?
Pineda: I don’t think anyone plans to be this active as an MMA fighter. As a fighter, it is difficult to turn down fights. When the UFC calls, I am here to fight. Fighting is my job, and I’m here to put on a show for the fans and to earn fight bonuses. I don’t prefer to fight more often, but as long as I am making good fight decisions and healthy, I’m up to the challenge.
Legacy: What do you think of Carvalho as an opponent? What do you think his strengths are and where do you see yourself having the advantage?
Pineda: Antonio is a great fighter. I have a lot of respect for his stand up and ground game. But I am going to drag him into a war. I am coming straight at him, and he is going to have to deal with my game.
Legacy: How has life changed for you since getting to the UFC?
Pineda: The UFC has given me the opportunity to fight on an international stage, and to earn a lot of money. My life has stayed pretty much the same. Not a lot has changed. I plan to keep it that way.
Legacy: Have you done any training outside of your normal stuff here in Houston, or do you feel like you can get everything you need here in Houston?
Pineda: I train 95% of the time at 4oz Fight Club and occasionally go elsewhere. I did go out to Austin to train with Yves Edwards and their guys for this fight at Austin Muay Thai. But we have such a great gym; most outside fighters come to 4oz to train with us and our coaches.
Legacy: Andrew Craig was in the UFC shortly after you got there. Give me a couple of names that you think may be the next couple guys out of Houston to make it?
Pineda: It’s hard for me to answer that right now. I have been so focused on my competition here in the UFC that I can’t give a perfect answer to that. Everyone asks me that, but right now I am so focused that I just can’t say.
Legacy: Is there anyone in the UFC you WANT to fight? Obviously, you don’t choose your match ups, but is there anyone hypothetically that you would like to fight?
Pineda: I will fight anyone they put in front of me. I’m here to be the best, and to make money. There is only one way to do that, and that is to fight the best in the UFC.
Legacy: You have anything else you want to add or any sponsors you want to thank?
Pineda: The fans, they make the sport what it is. Without them none of us would have UFC jobs. I want to thank my sponsors…Los Cucos, Kinzy Custom Flooring, 4oz Fight Club, Training Mask, Venum Fight Gear, Headrush, First Round Management. I would also like to thank my coaches Bob Perez, Jeremy Mahon, and Jose Santibanez. My sparring partners and teammates at 4oz Fight Club deserve a ton of credit as well; they all have been huge in my success. Also Mick Maynard with Legacy Fighting Championships. Mick is a great friend and helped jump start my path to the UFC.