It’s been a long, rough year for Daniel Straus. Everything looked so promising last October when the American Top Team fighter not only defeated UFC veteran Alvin Robinson, but finished him via second round rear naked choke while patiently waiting in line for a shot at Bellator Featherweight Champion Pat Curran. When the time finally came for his title opportunity earlier this year, Straus suffered a broken hand in training and was forced to back out and season seven tournament champion Shahbulat Shamhalaev took his place. Then, of course, there was the misunderstanding with his drug arrest, which thankfully was sorted out. Once he had a slight contract dispute settled, a bout against Curran was finally made official. Straus will have an opportunity to put his hands on Curran later tonight (Nov. 2, 2013) on the Bellator 106 main card on Spike TV in Long Beach, California. The talented featherweight has won 17 of his last 18 fights and he spoke to MMAOddsbreaker about avoiding ring rust, accomplishing his goals and his growth as a fighter since he first faced Curran four and a half years ago in this exclusive interview. Check it out: Brian Hemminger: I know you’re a guy that is more comfortable the more often he’s fighting. Are you just like climbing up the walls waiting for this fight to finally take place after such a long layoff due to the injury, the legal trouble and waiting in line for the belt? Daniel Straus: It’s horrible. It’s really, boy, man, I can’t find the right words to tell you. It sucks. It sucks not being able to fight. It sucks not being able to fight as many times as you want to. It’s the kind of thing that can make or break fighters. Obviously it’s not gonna break me but it definitely weighs on you. It can hurt you, but I’m not gonna let it hurt me. Brian Hemminger: You’re training with some great people and some really smart MMA minds. Have they devised any strategies to trick you into feeling you’ve been staying active with fighting or do you just have to go in there and wing it? Daniel Straus: Well I’ve been spending a lot of time with American Top Team and I’ve been sparring a lot of rounds in the cage to stay fresh. I’ve had plenty of fights in training but it’s not quite like the real thing. You can train every day but there’s nothing like the real thing. I do feel like I put in the work in sparring, but on the other hand, there wasn’t a big crowd there, there weren’t TV cameras and the big lights and all that stuff that comes with a real fight. I’ve been preparing for it. On one hand there’s a bit of ring rust and on the other hand there isn’t. We’ll have to see what happens. Brian Hemminger: Any concerns considering that you’re coming off the long layoff and jumping right into your first five round fight? Did you have to do anything special for that? Daniel Straus: I’m just keeping it up, man. Going into any five round fight, you’ve got to do more than a three round fight. Training for a five round title fight coming off a year-long layoff takes some special preparation. I’ve had to be really active, putting in a ton of rounds. It’s one thing to have good cardio, it’s another to be able to push the pace for five rounds. Brian Hemminger: I know you and Pat Curran are completely different fighters than the first time you guys faced each other several years ago, but is there anything from that fight that sticks out to you? Daniel Straus: Yeah, the cage. I spent a lot of that fight pushing on him against the cage. I have the video of that fight and it doesn’t bother me to watch it. I got clipped, but as you said, we’re both completely different fighters from that moment. We’re both so much more experienced now and work with bigger and better training environments. We’ve even trained together. I went out and trained with him after that fight. Pat’s a great guy. He’s not my best friend or anything but I’d call him a friend. This time around, there’s no love lost, none at all. If the shoe was on the other foot, I know he’d be coming for what I had so I don’t think there’ll be any problems there. I’m not in it for the revenge, wanting to knock him out because he knocked me out. That’s not what I care about. All I care about is getting that belt. Once I have that belt, I’ll be satisfied and you can’t tell me anything else. Brian Hemminger: You’ve had a long, hard, bumpy road. Do you feel like getting that title would almost complete you? Daniel Straus: Umm, not really man, it’s just something I want to do. It’s just another step in the road. It’s just another thing I want to accomplish while I’m on the path. In the next five years, if I accomplish the things I want to accomplish, I want people to look back and tell me “I remember when you first won that belt.” Then I want them to talk about how I held that belt. I’m trying to achieve greatness and getting this belt is just another step towards that. It’s obviously something I want and this is the biggest fight I’ve had in my life but I’m hoping for even bigger fights and bigger opportunities. I’m not looking past this fight by any means, but I’m always looking for even bigger opportunities and I have to win this fight to get those opportunities. Brian Hemminger: How do you visualize victory against Pat Curran on November 2nd? Daniel Straus: I’ve thought about this fight a million different ways. I want to put a ton of pressure on him, really push him hard. Contrary to what other people may think, I don’t actually want this fight to go the distance. I’d love to go out there, impose my will and get out of there with stoppage win inside the first two rounds. Daniel would like to thank American Top Team, all his training partners, his sponsors Contract Killer, his friends, family and fans who supported him through some tough times. You can follow him on Twitter @DanielStraus.