Daniel Roberts' journey to UFC 129
Daniel Roberts is the Ultimate Fighting Championship's ninja.
It's easy if you're a UFC fighter to take the welterweight lightly, especially after him suffering a knockout loss to John Howard in his debut.
Correction: It was easy.
Three opponents and two first round submission victories later, Roberts has put the UFC on notice.
“Don't overlook me,” Roberts says. “I always go in looking for the finish. The sooner I beat my opponent and get my hand raised, the better.”
With a 12-1 professional mixed martial arts record and a stellar grappling career, Roberts is one of the most accomplished newcomers in the UFC. But like many fighters that came before him, MMA wasn't his predetermined career path. In fact, the Tulsa, OK native didn't start wrestling until his latter high school years, when he befriended another future UFC fighter in Gerald “Hurricane” Harris.
“Gerald Harris has been a good buddy of mine for a long time,” Roberts says. “He's one of the reasons I got into MMA. I think we'll see him back in the UFC sooner than later.”
While many fighters start off with one area of strength and build upon it as their career progresses, Roberts got lucky, learning wrestling and grappling at the same time. Much like many of his fellow fighters, Roberts did the smart thing before starting his MMA career—he got an education. A business degree wasn't the only thing that defined Roberts' Bacone College years though.
He carried his desire to compete to the college level, becoming an All-American wrestler in 2004. He didn't stop there, taking his athletic talents to grappling, en route to three North American Grappling Association (NAGA) titles, an Abu Dhabi Combat Club (ADCC) medal, and a Jiu-Jitsu National Title. After an incredible 69-14 grappling campaign, Roberts made the jump to MMA in 2007.
Roberts' decade-plus of practicing Jiu-Jitsu, boxing, judo, and wrestling all paid off as he started his MMA career with nine straight wins, all taking place in his home state. During that stretch, Roberts earned a notable win over UFC veteran Anthony Macias via first round submission due to strikes. Less than three years after his MMA debut, Roberts received the opportunity of a lifetime on March 21, 2010.
When Anthony Johnson went down with a knee injury prior to his scheduled bout against John Howard on “UFC on Versus: Jones vs Vera,” the UFC needed a replacement and called up Roberts to fill in.
March 21, 2010
Despite being on the preliminary card, Roberts' debut did make the television broadcast. Unfortunately for him, it wasn't the kind of national exposure he wanted. Roberts found out why John Howard was nicknamed “Doomsday” that night, suffering his first defeat—a tough first round knockout loss that won his opponent a “Knockout of the Night" bonus.
Back to the drawing board