Interview with Daniel Pineda above
Daniel Pineda wasn’t even practicing jiu-jitsu two weeks before earning a “Performance of the Night” bonus-victory against Herbert Burns at UFC 252 on Aug. 15.
Tough to believe considering Pineda out classed the Brazilian jiu-jitsu blackbelt on the ground, mixing his top control with punches and elbows. He won via second-round TKO in his first fight of his second stint with the UFC.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, Pineda was barely training before his camp. He was 27 pounds over the featherweight limit and he was only working on his standup, trying to avoid contact with his teammates.
Once he got the short-notice call, the current situation did not matter. His second chance at the UFC was here.
“We weren’t even wrestling or doing jiu-jitsu at that time. Like I said, I wasn’t really training, not that much,” Pineda said.
“My game is when I add punches. I am good at jiu-jitsu, I am. I can submit you from anywhere, but whenever I add my punches, that just opens a lot more.”
Daniel Pineda wanted to roll
Pineda’s plan to stand with Burns in the first round quickly vanished after a knee from Burns opened a cut on the left eye lid of Pineda. Pineda scored a takedown less than a minute into the fight.
Burns scored a takedown in the second and remained on top for the majority of the round, but Pineda was able to scramble and earn top control. He eventually transitioned to a crucifix, finishing the fight with elbows.
“I did want to roll with him, I wanted to feel his ground. I wanted to prove everyone wrong, I wanted to submit him,” Pineda said. “I’m just happy to control somebody as high level as he is.”
Accepting a short-notice fight against Burns brought other challenges before the fight. Pineda needed to cut 27 pounds in two weeks.
The most weight Pineda ever cut previously was 30 pounds in five weeks. On the eve of weigh-ins, he was the last to leave the UFC Performance Institute, cutting 12 pounds in a single night according to Pineda.
Pineda needed to only cut a half a pound on the day of weigh-ins.
His opponent came in over 3.5 pounds, giving up 20 percent of his purse to Pineda. Pineda rather Burns kept the money in trade for a catchweight at 150 pounds.
“My manager called me, literally there was like I think 10 minutes in the period where they cut it off and you can’t make weight no more, he was like, ‘Hey, he’s not going to make weight. He’s off by 3.5 pounds,’ I’m like, ‘Why couldn’t you have told me this last night?,’ Pineda said. “Screw that money, screw that 20 percent, let me know I can have five more pounds, I’ll be happy with that.”
Pineda’s last chance
Close to five years after his first stint with the UFC came to an end, Pineda considered retirement. That was until the Professional Fight League came calling.
Despite both of his PFL victories being overturned by the Nevada Athletic Commission due to a failed drug test, Pineda found his way back into the octagon.
At 35 years old, Pineda is making one last run in the UFC. It all started with a win over Burns on Saturday. There’s no specific name Pineda wants next, but the featherweight prefers someone who will help him climb the rankings.
The Texas native also prefers a spot on a main card.
It took six years for Pineda to return to the UFC and after a dominant performance on Saturday, he made his arrival known. His second stint in the octagon is here.
He is aware it’s his last.
“If anything happens with the UFC where I’m not with them no more, I’m done,” Pineda said. “It sucks to say it because I’m saying I am going to stay fighting till I fricken lose.”