The last time UFC fans saw lightweight Danny Downes in the Octagon he was busy gritting his way through a brutal bout with Jeremy Stephens, a bout most remember for the 25-year old Roufusport product’s refusal to tap to an extremely deep Kimura attempt.
Downes next fight comes this weekend at UFC 137 where he’ll face Ultimate Fighter 13 finalist Ramsey Nijem on the preliminary portion of the card. And, as is the case in all of his bouts, the proud Irish lad from Chicago plans to enter the cage with the same tenacity carrying him through Stephens’ submission attempt.
Part of it is that basic thing where you always think that no matter position you get in, you still think ‘I can win. I’ll get out of this, get up, and I’ll win. You never just want to quit. I don’t know if I have a high pain tolerance, but I just keep going,” Downes explained in a conversation with the UFC’s website. “(Did) you ever see Chris Rock talking about how people who want congratulations or respect for things they’re supposed to do? That’s how I feel. When I step into that cage, I have a duty to myself, my coaches, my teammates, the fans and the UFC. I have an obligation to go out there and give everything I’ve got. I’m not going out there to half-ass it – ‘Well, it’s close enough, I’ll just stop now and live to fight another day.’ I still knew I had more to give and I wasn’t willing to quit. He was gonna have to actually rip it off and take it with him, and even then I’d still probably try to do something, but I’d assume the ref would stop it by then.”
“I don’t know what it is – it’s either being stubborn, or stupid, or being a sore loser, but I know that about myself,” he continued on the topic of his “never say die” attitude. “When I get in that position, I’m not gonna quit. They say stuff like ‘you just live so you could look yourself in the mirror the next morning,’ and I’d much rather wake up with a broken nose or something else than look there and be like ‘I quit.’ And it’s not some BS masculinity thing. I’m not doing it to say I’m a big tough guy; if you want to tap, then tapping is essentially quitting. It’s crying uncle, and maybe my threshold before saying uncle is a lot higher than a lot of other people’s.”
While Downes may have picked up the second loss of his ten-fight career against Stephens, he exited the Octagon with something perhaps more precious than simply a victory.
“The biggest thing I got from that fight is confidence,” said Downes before jesting, “I’m in the UFC, this is the pinnacle of Mixed Martial Arts, and I’m thinking, seriously, have I just been fooling these people the last couple years? How did I get here? So there’s still that ‘do I belong? This is the UFC, and I’m still Dan Downes.’ But in that fight, I went toe-to-toe with Stephens and I never felt outclassed. Yeah he beat me and caught me in different things, and I made errors, but I was never in a position where I’m like, ‘I’m in totally over my head, this is scary.’ So realizing that I can do this and that I belong here, that’s done a lot for me.”
It sounds like Nijem, who himself is an apt grappler, may have to channel the spirit of Halloween if he wants to beat Downes by delivering some sort of gruesome injury to force a stoppage.
PHOTO CREDIT – UFC