When it comes to his 2018, featherweight veteran Daniel Pineda looks at it as one of the best years in his decade-plus long career.
Coming in off a loss to Georgi Karakhanyan in his sole 2017 bout, Pineda wanted to rebound in 2018 and close out the year unblemished, which he managed to do.
“2018 was one of my best years,” Pineda told MMAWeekly.com. “When I started 2018, I said I wanted to win four fights, but I had three, but I won two belts, so it made up for the fourth one.
“Especially against guys who were champions or fighting for the belt (in Dimitre Ivy and Elias Rodriguez), finishing them off in the first round felt really good.”
Twelve years and nearly 40 fights into his career, Pineda feels like he’s just now becoming a complete fighter capable of blending all aspects of MMA and not just focus on one discipline to gain victory.
“I never really put it all together, but now I have Jiu-Jitsu, I have stand-up, I have wrestling, and I’m starting to put it all together,” said Pineda. “Back in the day, it was shoot in, take them down, and ground and pound; but now I’ll stand up. I feel good and feel like I’m just peaking.
“It’s definitely a big step. I’m not afraid to stand up. Before I didn’t want to get hit, I wanted to take everyone down and not get caught. But now I’m at a point where I’m just there to fight and put it all together.”
On Friday in Humble, Texas, Pineda (25-13) will face Rey Trujillo (24-25) in a rematch of their 2010 bout at Fury FC 32 in the evening’s 145-pound main event.
“Rey is a go-getter,” Pineda said. “He’s going to go in there and just throw down. He’s a crazy fighter. He goes in there and throws bombs. He’s a very dangerous guy. The plan is not to be a dummy and stand with him, but take him down and submit him.
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“I’m way better than I was nine years ago, but he’s a dangerous guy. He knocked out my brother (Jose Santibanez). After I choked him out, he went and knocked out my brother, so now I’ll get him back for that.”
As he had planned for last year, Pineda is looking to make one last run at things in 2019 before calling it a career.
“I said I wanted to make one more run when I started 2018,” said Pineda. “Now I’m going to give it one more run and try to make it back to the big show or have a big fight.
“This is going to be my last run pretty much. Whether it’s going to be the UFC, ONE, or whatever it is, this is going to be my last run. After this, I will probably hang them up.”