There are two basic principles every person in the fight world knows. The first one says to never underestimate a fighter whose fists swing like hammers because there have been plenty of people in combat sports history who have made tons of money only because they hit like bricks.
Second, anyone whose natural instinct when getting pummelled to the floor is the wild aspiration to continually get back up to his feet is even more dangerous than the hammer fists because that fighter is never really out of the fight.
Judging by this fighter’s epic comeback win over Dwight Grant on August 22, UFC welterweight Daniel Rodriguez possesses both those stunning qualities, and that’s something that someday soon could turn the American into a star.
But “D-Rod” revealed to Heavy that he’s just getting started and that he plans on bringing that same kind of tenacity to each and every one of his fights going forward.
“I’ve only been training in MMA for about eight years now,” Rodriguez told Heavy. “Before that, it was just a ton of streetfights, party fights and s*** like that, you know.”
How MMA Career Started
The 33-year-old said he grew up a huge boxing fan, but got hooked on MMA when he saw Forrest Griffin defeat Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at UFC 86 in 2008.
“I was like what the hell is this? This is f***ing sick,” Rodriguez remembers. “I turned into a fan immediately.”
Next thing he knew, Rodriguez was passing by his local MMA gym on his way to and from work at a local construction company.
Sure, he had started hitting and kicking a heavy bag at his local LA Fitness gyms just as soon as he saw his first UFC fight, but Rodriguez wanted something more than just the streetfights he was getting into on the side.
So Rodriguez enrolled at Tapout Gym LA, and the rest is history.
Rodriguez Grew Up Admiring Great Boxing Champs
Rodriguez credits his hard-punching style to all the great boxing champions he watched growing up.
“I have a fan-friendly fight style,” Rodriguez said. “I grew up in that era of boxing with Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya, Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez.”
With role models like those, its no wonder Rodriguez is always so ready to swing for the fences.
Rodriguez said he remembers his entire family gathering around the television on weekends to watch those great boxing stars, and it’s something he’s carried with him into the UFC’s Octagon.
“That was my upbringing,” Rodriguez said. “It was always like an event, and now it’s the UFC.”
Rodriguez’s Short Pro Boxing Career
After starting his pro MMA career back in 2015, Rodriguez said he took a few professional boxing matches when he wasn’t getting enough MMA fights lined up on his schedule for his liking.
Rodriguez had never competed as an amateur fighter in boxing, but he jumped straight into the deep end of the professional pool without thinking twice about it when the chance came.
“I was like f*** it, let’s do it,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez went 1-1 in the pro boxing ranks but said he stopped boxing to focus on his MMA career.
Thankfully, more MMA fights came, and now “D-Rod” is 3-0 in UFC fights and seemingly on his way to doing big things in the stacked 170-pound division.
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D-Rod: ‘There’s Much More To Come’
“There’s much more to come,” Rodriguez said. “I realize that fans are liking it, and I’m going to go along with it. I’m going to continue to train my ass off and go out there and leave it all on the line.”
Among other fights Rodriguez has his eye on after his stunning win last month, “D-Rod” told MMA Junkie that he would love to throw down with Mike Perry next.
But no matter who or what comes next, Rodriguez said he would take his same basic approach to his next outing.
“I’m going to swing these hammers like Thor,” Rodriguez said.
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