Interview: Daniel “The Pit” Pineda

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“I don’t plan to lose, so he better come with his game face if he wants to fight my brother at Strikeforce.”

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Daniel “The Pit” Pineda

Interview and Photos by: Barry Laminack

If you where going to make a list of the most recognized fighters in Houston, there is no doubt that Daniel Pineda’s name would be on that list.  That’s saying something when you consider that he hasn’t fought in Houston in over two years.  His lack of fights in his home town isn’t from a lack a of desire, he’s just been traveling all over Texas trying to fight the very best in the state, and amassing a respectable 11-7 record in the process.

“The Pit” has never met a fight he didn’t like; after all this is the guy who went up __- weight classes from 145 to 170 to fight Jae Suk Lim.  He admited that’s been something he’s had to work on, but like the old saying goes, you can’t change a zebra’s stripes. Fighting is what he loves to do, so he does what he loves.

I made the trip out to 4oz to spend some time with Daniel as he prepared for his upcoming Legacy fight with Legacy Lightweight champ Rey Trujillo.  We talked about the set backs he’s had, the road ahead and why he’s stayed so loyal to his striking coach (Bob Perez).

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TCD.net:  Your first fight was against Jeremy Mahon, who is now your trainer (and co-owner of your home gym, 4oz). Tell us how you ended up training with him?

Daniel: I got in a little argument with Silverback, so I was looking for another gym to train at.  Come to find out, Jeremy had a gym that I could train at.

TCD.net: Did you call him, or did he call you?

Daniel: Actually, he contacted me, via MySpace. He said, “Hey man, how are you doing? Come over here and train a couple of times if you want.” So I did and brought Robert [Perez] with me.

TCD.net: How long have you been training with 4oz?

Daniel: About a year and a half.

TCD.net: There are a ton of gyms in the city, so what keeps you here?

Daniel: Robert, my Muay Thai trainer.

TCD.net: How did it feel to win the Katana title?

Daniel: It was one of the best feelings ever at the time, but it doesn’t mean anything to me anymore until I get that Legacy belt.

TCD.net: We talked a little bit about it when the fight was announced, but tell us, is this a revenge fight for you, given the fact that your opponent [Rey Trujillo] beat your gym mate [Jesus Rivera].

Daniel: Me and Jesus are very good friends. We met here at 4oz and have become really good friends. It’s like if somebody beats up your brother or one of your best buddies, you’re going to want to kick their ass right? That’s my whole goal; I want to get his [Jesus’] revenge.  I should get his 155 belt if I beat him.

TCD.net: So, you want both belts?

Daniel: Yeah [laughs] I think it should be for both belts.  If he comes in heavy and I beat him, I should get both belts.

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TCD.net: Speaking of brothers, the rumor right now is that when Strikeforce come to town, that Rey could be fighting your brother [Jose Santibanez] on the undercard.  What are your thoughts on that?

Daniel: It’s funny because I’m going to be fighting him, what, 21 days before my brother fights him? Honestly it’s going to be kind of hard because if you lose, you’re suspended for what, 30 days? I don’t plan to lose, so he better come with his game face if he wants to fight my brother at Strikeforce.

TCD.net:  Early in 09, you suffered a 4 fight losing streak for the first and only time in your career.  What was it like going through something like that?

Daniel: I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t like to lose. I was going to quit, but like always Robert kept me in there and kept my head straight.  I haven’t had my ass kicked yet, I’ve only been submitted. [laughs] so if Trujillo is going to try and beat me, he better go for the submission because I haven’t been knocked out yet.

TCD.net:  During that streak, you had something like 3 fights in 6 weeks right? Talk about that a little bit.

Daniel: That was my problem. I was taking everything. I lost my fight against Vargas at Bellator and I thought, “man, screw this; I’ve got to get a win.”  My head wasn’t on straight and I just kept on going, fighting guys who were undefeated or had a belt and I wanted to fight the best because I wanted my name to get back up there; it just wasn’t going my way.

TCD.net:  Looking back, would you manager your career any different?

Daniel: Man, you just learn from your mistakes, like don’t take fights too soon.  Rey, that goes for you too, don’t take a fight that quick.

TCD.net:  We talked a little about the Trujillo/Rivera fight and how it was probably one of the best fights Houston has ever seen.  Can’t his fight replace it as the best ever?

Daniel: It’s not going to go 5 rounds.  I’ll be surprised if it goes 3 rounds. It’s going to be a war. One of us is going to get knocked out our ground and pounded out in the first or second round.  This isn’t no 5 3 minute rounds, this is 5 5’s so I hope he’s training for them.

TCD.net:  Rey is a high energy, go forward fighter. How do you plan to deal with that?

Daniel: The awesome thing is we are both like that, so we are just going to [claps his hands together] and see what happens and see who gets knocked out.

TCD.net:  Do you have a prediction for the fight? How do you see it ending?

Daniel: I think he’s going to tap to punches on the ground.

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TCD.net:  How long has it been since you fought here in Houston.

Daniel: It’s been about 2 years. I fought Vince Libardi at the Verizon Wireless Theatre.  A lot of people are like, man it’s about time he’s coming back to Houston.  I was fighting all over the place, but I was like, MAN, I want to go back to Houston.

TCD.net:  What’s it feel like to be back?

Daniel: I love it man, it pumps me up even more. I told Robert for the longest but it just hasn’t happened; but now I have the opportunity and it’s for the belt! I think you’ll hear the fans going crazy and I think we’ll get fight of the night. He’s got his fans and I have mine, so it’s going to be loud.

TCD.net:  What is one thing that nobody knows about you?

Daniel: That I watch a lot of cartoons and play a lot of Playstation 3. [laughs]

TCD.net:  What do you want the fans in Houston to know about you as a fighter?

Daniel: That I’m the kind of guy that doesn’t stop. When I bring it, I’m going to bring it all and I’m going to give it all I have, win or lose. I’m there for the fans and to get my belt.

TCD.net:  How long do you plan on fighting?

Daniel: Man, until god breaks my legs or something. He’s the one that’s going to stop me.

TCD.net:  If you win this fight, and assuming that the talent pool is deeper at 155 than at 145, would you consider moving up in weight and taking some fights at 155?

Daniel: I want the 155 belt too, so yeah.

TCD.net:  So if you win this, are you going to ask for a title fight with Rey at 155?

Daniel: If I win this fight, I shouldn’t fight Trujillo.  He should just drop the belt and I should fight the next up and comer.

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TCD.net:  Do you feel comfortable at 155?

Daniel: The first three fights of my career where at 155, and then I went up to 170 to fight Jae Suk Lim at Elite XC, so yeah, I could do it.

TCD.net:  You’ve mention Robert Perez several times during the interview.  What is it about him that makes him so good and what does he mean to you as a trainer?

Daniel: I’m the kind of guy that I would like to finish where I start, and I started with Robert. He’s the one that told me I needed to fight, him and my brother Jose Santibanez.  Both of those guys are the ones who pushed me into fighting. I just wanted to learn how to fight so I could protect myself in the street, because I used to fight a lot, it was like an every weekend thing for me.  So they pushed me into it and got me out of trouble.

When I told everyone I was going to 4oz, he was the one that followed me. Not even my brother followed me.

TCD.net:  So do you hold that against your brother?

Daniel: No, I think it was better. He gets what he needs over there and I get what I need over here.

TCD.net:  Do you guys ever spar or train together?

Daniel: Yeah, he comes over here and trains some.

TCD.net:  Do you ever go back over there?

Daniel: Yeah, sometimes; usually to help him or some of my buddies out. Tony is a great guy, I like Tony.

TCD.net:  If you don’t mind me asking, what happened over there that caused you to leave?

Daniel: You know, it was just one of those things and it was time to move on. Like I said, Tony is a great guy.

TCD.net:  Is there anyone that you’d like to thank?

Daniel: Yeah, I want to thank Robert Perez, my Muay Thai trainer, Ragan McDaniel at B3 Sports, You guys at TheCageDoor.net, and all my sponsors:

  • Los Cucos Mexcian Cafe
  • Fast Fitness
  • New Star Muffler Shop #5
  • American Grinding
  • iBodyPaint.com

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