The last thing that newly crowned Bellator Featherweight Champion Daniel Straus wants to be viewed as is a story of redemption. That was the case when he made his debut in Bellator MMA as a 26-year-old looking to shed the label of a man overcoming his past.
"Straus had refused to play along. Prison was not only a part of his life he didn't want to revisit, but he hate the thought of some kid watching and thinking it might be okay to mess up, get locked up, and think you would come out with a redemption story," Doug Merlino says in his book Beast.
The book takes a behind the scenes look at Florida's American Top Team, with stories of pain, tragedy, redemption and success from Jeff Monson, Steve Mocco, Mirsad Bektic and the aforementioned Straus.
It was uncharacteristic of Straus not to follow what Bellator producers wanted to do with him or the ways to portray him. Merlino watched as Straus was interviewed for a short piece that would run before his upcoming Bellator fight.
The producer fed a line: "With Martie in my corner..."
"With Martie in my corner, and my team in my corner, I feel like I have the love to be a champ," Straus said.
"Beautiful," the producer said.
I stood next to the producer
"Daniel plays ball," he told me. "That's important. I know guys whose careers have ended before they even got started because they wouldn't play ball." - Beast
Later in the book, Straus recalls an interaction with Bellator star King Mo Lawal. He would later call the advice he was given as the best he had gotten in his career.
"I'm broke as a motherf**ker," Straus said.
"Exactly,' Mo said, 'So it's time, you gotta run your mouth a little bit" - Beast
As hard as Straus was willing to work on his promotional skills, Bellator was still looking to bigger draws in the sport to shine a spotlight on. After seeing a promotional commercial for Bellator 106, Straus felt betrayed by the organization for not including his name or image.
"This is what you want me to hype up?" he erupted. "That makes me mad, you know what I mean? Like don't f**king do this s**t to me....How do you f**king come to a guy and be like, 'Hey, I want you to promote this s**t'... F**k you, I'm not promoting a goddamn thing." - Beast
The book also details Straus' preparation for his championship winning fight against Pat Curran, and his subsequent loss in the rematch. Beast is on sale now and can be found on Amazon.