Henry Corrales believes he has unfinished business with former Bellator featherweight champion Daniel Straus.
With a win this Friday, Henry Corrales wants another crack at Daniel Straus
The two men first met, coincidentally, on the main card of Bellator 138: Unfinished Business (also known as Bellator 138: Kimbo Slice vs. Ken Shamrock). Corrales, a five-time King of the Cage 145 lb. champion, was entering the bout on a 12-0 record in which only two of his opponents had managed to reach the final bell. Straus, a few fights removed from handing the belt back to Pat Curran in a rematch, was looking to rebound from a second-round submission loss to current titleholder Patricio “Pitbull” Freire.
The press for their matchup preceding the St. Louis event, which until the numbers from Saturday’s Bellator Dynamite 1 are in remains the highest-rated broadcast by the Viacom subsidiary to date, was split between Corrales’ focused confidence that he would not only get the job done by way of strikes, but that he would earn a title shot on the back of such a sound victory; and the dismissive self-reassurance of Straus, a perennial contender facing the first truly rocky road of his six-year pro career who thought his challenger’s aspirations were a little too ambitious. Corrales, he said, was “biting off a lot for his first major competition.”
And the Bellator veteran proved himself right in less than two rounds with an arm triangle choke after a largely lopsided affair. For the first time in his professional career, Corrales’ hand wasn’t raised. The former big-fish-in-a-small-pond had just encountered his first shark and the resultant mark—a number other than zero after the dash in his professional record—would remain with him for the duration of his tenure in the sport.
“You know what? It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be,” said the 29-year-old La Miranda, CA resident late last week. “Just from being undefeated and taking my first loss, I thought I’d be devastated. But the facts are I fought my heart out, I did everything properly and correctly leading up to the fight—training my ass off, eating the right food… things like that. I just slipped. I had a little mental slip and took it back a little old-school. The moment I got punched I was like, ‘Fuck this. What’s up? Let’s go!’ I got a little too caught up in entertaining fans. But you know what, dude? At the same time I was getting my ass handed to me, I had a good time. It was a great experience.
“That being said, I’m very stubborn and it took that hard lesson that Daniel Straus taught me to let me know that I need to fix my game plan. We work a heavy skill set in my training camp and I just didn’t use it. There was no footwork, there was no head movement, there was no in-and-out… I just went in and fought—put my fucking chin down and got caught a couple times and got tapped out. I learned a lot from that fight. I left the fight very optimistic about my career and everything, so it wasn’t too devastating.”
As for Straus’ assertion that his reach exceeded his grasp, Corrales agrees that was indeed the case that night. However, that concession is not without addendum.
“He was right! He was right, you know?” he said. “I needed that experience and he gave it to me. He did a lot for me and I appreciate it very much. Now that’s out of the way, I’d like to return the favor and let him learn a thing or two from me.”
But before he gets another run at Straus, he needs to get through fellow Mexican-American Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez, a hard out by any standard who is coming off a decision loss to Pat Curran at Bellator 139: Kongo vs. Volkov. The 25-year-old Roufusport product boasts a 10-2 record, including five submissions and one knockout, with neither loss coming by way of a finish. Like Corrales, he is likely chomping at the bit to dive back into the division’s deep end, at his opponent’s expense.
“He’s a tough guy and I’ve had a tough camp, but at the end of the day I need to go in there, use my skill set and fight a smart, technical fight,” said Corrales. “If I do that, I should be fine. I’ve done all the hard work. I’ve done everything I can possibly do. I just need to fight my fight. Win or lose, I always feel like that. I always want to just get in there and fight and perform the best I can. Even if I’d won that fight [with Straus], I would have found something that I didn’t fucking do right. I’m just always trying to better myself and do my best. You know how they say, ‘You’re only as good as your last fight?’ I say, ‘You’re only as good as your next fight.’ That’s the way it should be.”
Fighting and physical competition has been an important part of Henry Corrales’ life. However, it was only in the last half decade that he engaged in it for profitable purposes. Before he found mixed martial arts, the All-In MMA member was treading a troubled path. Jailed on multiple occasions for fighting, driving under the influence and vandalism, he can pinpoint the precise moment when he decided to turn things around and restructure his priorities.
“I’ve always been really competitive,” he said. “I grew up playing sport—I boxed a little bit, played baseball, football—but started getting into trouble, started getting into street fights, was in and out of jail. This was a good transition for me to leave that type of life behind and focus on trying to become a professional athlete, something good from something bad. The last time I got arrested, I made a promise to myself. I said, ‘This is the last time I’ll be in here,’ and I haven’t been to jail since. I got out of jail, I started training, rededicated my life to something positive and I’m glad it’s working out so far.”
When asked about how far away from the belt he hopes to be with a dominant victory on Friday, he redirects the conversation once more to the man who spoiled his coming-out party.
“You know, I’m not sure,” he said. “Hopefully up there. I haven’t really given that too much thought. The only thing I have to say, respectfully, is that I’ll do whatever it takes to get another crack at Daniel Straus. That’s a big motivation for me, to be honest with you. “
Henry “OK” Corrales faces Emmanuel “El Matador” Sanchez on the main card of Bellator 143: Warren vs. Davis on Friday, Sept. 25 at the State Farm Arena in Hidalgo, TX, which will air on Spike TV at 9 p.m. ET. Follow him on Twitter HERE.
(Slider image, property of Fighters Only Magazine.)