“The mysterious nature of the ninja has long captured popular imagination in [the UFC], and later, the rest of the world. Ninjas figure prominently in folklore and legend, and as a result, it is often difficult to separate historical fact from myth. Some legendary abilities include invisibility, walking on water, and [charming the boss, Dana White]. The ninja is also prevalent in popular culture, appearing in many forms of entertainment media.”
Daniel “Ninja” Roberts, is a former All-American wrestler with over 12 years of jiu-jitsu experience, four years of karate experience, and three years of judo experience. He has won countless competitions over the past few years and carries some of the most impressive credentials of any MMA fighter who is not currently calling themselves a champion.
Roberts’ MMA record is an impressive nine wins and one loss, with his only loss (if you recall) resulting from his last fight on March 21st (Live on Versus) against John “Doomsday” Howard. In case you missed it—Daniel put on an impressively dominant display…right up until he got knocked out!
This is my second interview with the one and only, Ninja:
James Ryan: Hey there Daniel!
Daniel Roberts: Hello there Mr. Ryan. How have you been?
James Ryan: Really great thanks. How have you been? I assume that you must be training a lot these days?
Daniel Roberts: Great! Ya, I’ve been training really hard, pretty much every day except for on Sunday, I take a day off. Other than that I’m training every day for about four to five hours a day. It’s tough work, but it will definitely pay off.
James Ryan: I was thinking about our last interview the other day and in hindsight, a lot of your predictions came true, just not on the right side of things. We definitely saw a knock out in the first round though [Laughs].
Truthfully, I think I was in a state of shock.
Daniel Roberts: So was I [Laughs].
James Ryan: You were dominating the entire fight up until that point. I was literally at the edge of my seat but I guess that’s just how a fight goes sometimes, eh?
Daniel Roberts: Ya, but that’s exactly why MMA is so exciting. You just never know what’s gonna happen. If you get hit hard enough in the right spot, you can go out cold. If there was a way to build my chin up, I would [Laughs]. But that’s just how the human body works. I’m still gonna be super aggressive though.
James Ryan: When I coach football, I’m always glad when we can get a loss out of the way early. For some reason, it seems to immediately take the pressure off of the players moving forward, plus it gives me a badly needed motivational tool to manipulate my players with [Laughs]. Did you notice any difference in how you viewed being in a fight after your first loss?
Daniel Roberts: I definitely learned a lot from it.
Looking back, I think I was a little bit too riled up. A couple of times I had good side control and the dominant position. The lesson was that if you can get control and position—take it. I missed out. I actually had a lot of opportunities to have good dominant control.
[Laughs] Another thing is that, it was a pretty good takedown by Howard, but I didn’t really fight it, and I realize now that wasn’t the best option to do, no matter how good I am on the ground. Honestly, I was so comfortable on the ground, I really didn’t care if he took me down, but still—not a good idea.
I definitely won’t be giving up any more take downs [Laughs]. I’m not saying that I won’t be taken down, but from now on I plan on making it very difficult for my opponents.
James Ryan: Are you really that confident on your back, or did you just not perceive Howard to be that much of a threat to you from that position?
Daniel Roberts: I knew I could catch him, so honestly, I didn’t mind if he took me anywhere on the ground. I did some things wrong in my submission attempt, but like I said, I definitely learned a lot. I watched the replay of the fight a lot of times to make sure that I could really learn from the experience.
James Ryan: It’s all about getting better isn’t it? To take something positive away from the experience?
Daniel Roberts: Absolutely, it’s a really good learning experience. If I had won, I probably wouldn’t have gone back and watched it so many times.
James Ryan: Originally you were scheduled to fight Julio Paulino. Now you are scheduled to fight Forrest Petz. What happened to Julio?
Daniel Roberts: Apparently, Julio hurt his back, which is too bad. He’s a pretty tough guy and it would have been a really interesting fight.
James Ryan: What do you know about Petz?
Daniel Roberts: Well, I know he will lose.
James Ryan: [Laughs] No doubt.
So many times in the UFC, the fans see a fighter lose and then he never gets invited back. In your fight against Howard, you were clearly dominating him and setting the pace of the action in that fight. I can’t imagine what must have been going through Howard’s head as he scrambled to keep up to you—he was getting overwhelmed the entire time.
Clearly you made an impression on the UFC despite the loss. Were you surprised at all that the UFC called you back for a second opportunity?
Daniel Roberts: No, not really. The UFC wants guys that will go out there and fight. I know I’m a good athlete. I’m not too worried about getting cut because I feel like I’m one of the best fighters, so I’m just gonna keep doing what I do.
I’ve learned from my loss and now I’ll be back even stronger.
I just gotta be smart about it moving forward. Not always the best decision to go after people, but for me, I’m definitely going to stay aggressive. With that being said however, I definitely have to protect myself as well.
Right now I’m working on my jiu-jitsu with Jake Shields who is probably the best in MMA as far as jiu-jitsu. It’s going to be very hard to submit me. I just don’t see myself losing three rounds—I mean, anything is possible [Laughs] but the only way honestly that I would lose is by knock out, so that’s kinda let me know something by that loss against Howard. I have to protect myself moving forward.
There’s just not going to be a lot of guys that will be able to control me for three rounds. I’ve gotta be smart and put my skills together.
James Ryan: How long have you been training with Jake?
Daniel Roberts: Since February. It’s really great to be able to train with the guys over at the Cesar Gracie camp, which is hands down the best camp out there. Jake Shields, Gilbert Melendez, Nick and Nate Diaz brothers, Matt Wiman, and a tonne of other really tough guys.
You couldn’t ask for a better camp. There are so many tough guys, I can only get better. Gilbert Melendez is undefeated against everyone that he has sparred against and I think that’s awesome!
And the thing about me is that I am a really fast learner. My jiu-jitsu is getting so much better—it’s really exciting.
James Ryan: So then I have to ask Daniel, what is your take on the whole Strikeforce brawl [Laughs]?
Daniel Roberts: Uh oh, the set-up [Laughs].
Honestly, I think it was all Mayhem Miller’s fault. He just picked the wrong opportunity to do something like that. What really started it off was when they were just trying to push him out—not hard, just backing him up, and he kinda flared up.
From there, the guys were just reacting off of instinct. They thought that Miller was going to try and fight them and that’s when everything went wild.
James Ryan: Well, it definitely happened very quickly.
Daniel Roberts: Mayhem Miller shouldn’t have even been in there, so he kinda got what he deserved. He just picked the wrong time.
James Ryan: What should the fans expect from your next fight?
Daniel Roberts: Anything can happen in a fight. It’s going to be action packed I think. Two tough guys, hungry for the win.
I am already super-motivated when I fight, but now that I’ve lost, my motivation is at a whole new level. I hate it, no one likes to lose. I just keep reminding myself that there is some stuff in life that you can’t control and all I can do is train hard to better prepare myself.
James Ryan: I always say, don’t worry about the things in life that you can’t control. Worry about what you can control. In your case, that would be the amount of effort that you put into your training.
Daniel Roberts: Precisely.
James Ryan: Are you nervous at all?
Daniel Roberts: I don’t really get nervous. I’m very focused on what I need to do.
James Ryan: Some fighters get pretty obsessed about avenging a loss. Have you thought a lot about fighting Howard again?
Daniel Roberts: Oh man [Laughs] I would love to fight Howard again. I don’t know how that would work out because obviously he won, but hopefully that would happen in the future. I would definitely love to fight him again.
James Ryan: What is your fight prediction against Petz?
Daniel Roberts: I say, let’s get it on as soon as that bell rings.
I’m looking to end the fight as soon as possible, so whatever option he gives me, whether it’s on the feet or on the ground, that’s what I’ll take.
James Ryan: Well Dan, I am very excited to be able to watch you fight again in the UFC. There is very little doubt in my mind that you will be successful in the UFC as you hunt down that Championship.
Daniel Roberts: Thanks James, I really appreciate it. And if I could, I would just like to give a special thank you to all of my sponsors—Carried Out Fight Gear, Lawless Clothing Brand, Health Wise Chiropractic in Oklahoma, Heavy Hands, and Sportssupplements.com. And of course, I would like to thank all of my fans who have been supporting me—they are awesome!
And also, please ask people to visit my website www.ninjaroberts.com.
James Ryan: Definitely. All the best at UFC 116, Dan.
Daniel Roberts: Thanks again, James.
This is my interview. If you don’t like it…I have others. Check them out at www.mrjamesryan.com
Carried Out Fight Gear was founded in 2009 by a group of Ex-fighters who realized that the true essence of a warrior was being lost by some people giving up. The Carried Out mindset of “One Way Out—Carried Out” signifies that a fighter will never surrender, and will fight to the very end. Leaving everything he/she has in the ring, on the mat, or in the cage.
ONE WAY OUT…CARRIED OUT!