A “complete fighter”.
That is what UFC fighter Danny Roberts has branded himself as in past interviews and it’s certainly hard to disagree. Fighting out of Liverpool, and going by the fighting moniker “Hot Chocolate”, Roberts has a refined repertoire at his disposal that he has used to finish opposing competitors inside the Octagon and has racked up an incredibly impressive 13 victories from 15 bouts. Starting from a small Liverpool based promotion called OMMAC; Olympian MMA Championships, Roberts triumphed over opponent after opponent and made gradual steps through various other fighting promotions and towards the ultimate goal; the prestige and reputation of the UFC.
Now sitting in the UFC’s welterweight rankings, the only way is up for one of the most formidable British fighters in MMA today. Danny, kindly and openly, was willing to talk about his extraordinary career so far and gave insight into why he yearns to be the best in the UFC.
“Danny, you are 15 fights into your impressive fighting career. At what point did you decide that you wanted to go down the combat sports route as a career and what inspired you to make that decision?”
“I started training in mixed martial arts at 23. Some would say it’s late but I had previously had a career in boxing with a few achievements as a boxer so I adapted at a fast pace. At first I just dabbled with it but found I started to love the diversity in all aspects, plus this getting down and using every single fighting style was a bit of me.”
Danny’s love for the variety of fighting styles certainly shows. With 5 knockouts and 5 submission victories to his name, it is evident that “Hot Chocolate” has the knockout power to end a fight with his ferocious and rapid striking, as well as the technical ability to finish his opponent on the ground with an array of different chokes and locks in his skill set. This versatility can prove crucial for climbing up the standings and clambering closer to the division belt.
“There are an abundance of amazing fighters and combat sports personalities that have fought throughout the history of the sport. Do you have any great fighters that have inspired you in your journey in MMA?”
“I have always been a big fan of Jose Aldo. As I was compelled towards MMA my research brought me across Jose, I admired his rise through adversity and the knowledge of his upbringing, environment and life struggles in general, along with his fighting style and relentless mindset to be the best. How’s that not to be admired? What I see in him, is what I see in a shadow of myself.”
If you’re aspiring to reach the peaks of the UFC, is there any better person to gain inspiration from? Roberts craving an eventual title belt as Aldo has done shows a persisting will to succeed, and that “relentless mindset to be the best” may just take him far in the company just as it had in his previous promotions.
“You made the jump to the UFC in 2015, what are the main contrasts from working for the world’s biggest and most glamourous MMA promotion to, for example, your previous promotion Cage Warriors or are there similarities?”
“Working for and with the UFC is an amazing opportunity for any athlete. There are similarities to the big shows around Europe and no doubt in the rest of the world that are in line with the UFC. Cage warriors had a lot of similarities with the cameras the lights setup etc but still there is nothing quite as special as the UFC.”
Roberts burst onto the scene in the UFC with a commanding first round victory over Nathan Coy with an impressive triangle choke. We’ve seen it before in the UFC; fighters having fantastic debuts in the company which subsequently lead to memorable careers. Fighters like Conor McGregor, another fighter who joined the UFC from Cage Warriors, had a stellar inaugural bout in the company and now sits firmly atop other competitors in company’s rankings.
“One of the stand out fights on your record is the Fight Of The Night decision victory against Dominic Steele at UFC 197, it was such a close bout with Steele even getting a knockdown, were you always confident you would leave with the victory or was the fight worryingly close?”
“Yes the fight between me and Dominique Steele was something of a trench digger. I was confident throughout the fight even though I took the rock band in the first as I threw a body kick and was off balance but, nevertheless, I found myself on the compass. I knew from that moment with Dominic Steele that it would be grand. As he tried to enforce his intentions throughout the fight I knew and felt I was the one predominantly putting pressure and forcing the fight forward, more destructive with the cleaner and more sufficient strikes. Come the end of round three I was pretty sure I had it in the bag.”
A gruelling match-up deserved of the Fight Of The Night award and a warrior-like performance fully displays Danny’s hunger to come away with victory. He eventually found his stride after being rocked early on in the fight and that composure paid off as the judges scored the fight in Danny’s favour by unanimous decision. Overcoming the adversity of a solid fighter in the form of Dominic Steele further proves that Roberts is a fighter to keep your eye firmly on in the near future.
“In your last time in the Octagon you lost a close back and forth fight against Mike Perry, what’s next for “Hot Chocolate” to bounce back from that loss?”
“You know the fight between me and Mike Perry I don’t look at it as a loss. Don’t get me wrong there is a lot I take away from the fight but apart from a mistake in the last 20 seconds I can’t take away anything from the performance that I was putting on. So moving forward fight wise I’m looking anyone in the top 30 or above as I feel I am one of the best in the world and still have that to prove but, without a shadow of doubt, in the near future I will cement my place at the top.”
Strong words and a strong desire to reach the top. To suffer a crushing blow so close to the end of the final round can linger in the minds of fighters, but sustaining belief in yourself is a philosophy Roberts abides by and he certainly has a lot of belief in his own ability. Confidence is emitted from his persona and a hankering for victory is always on the mind of a British fighter that seems destined for greatness in the company, and he would probably agree!
Roberts has the credentials to back up his confidence too. With such a strong fighting record across his entire professional career, it’s no wonder why “Hot Chocolate” adamantly feels he can elevate himself to prominence in the UFC.
“Your mixed martial arts record is pretty outstanding with 13 victories from 15 fights. With a track record like that do you feel to can really reach the very top of the UFC at some point?”
“I wouldn’t be in the game if I didn’t think I was going to reach the top” he said jokingly. “But no definitely I’m in it to get to the top and make a major statement for myself, my nation and, most importantly, for my son carrying the family name.”
“Every fighter who has ever reached the dizzy heights of the UFC had to start somewhere. What advice would you give to any young people who have that ambition to follow the same path that you are on?”
“To any aspiring young individual keep their dreams big keep that fire burning strong and never ever give up. Never take no for an answer always remember there is nine doubters to every one believer. You believe in you and that’s all that counts! Along with the three P’s: Practice, Patience, Perseverance, you have a winning formula.”
Danny Roberts shows that a firm belief in yourself is key to succeeding. Whether he was first pursuing his dream of being an MMA fighter to finally competing in the UFC, having faith in his ability as a fighter has led him to the height of his career he is at now. The desire to garner accolades and accomplish such great feats seems to lead Roberts further towards the gold of a prospective title.
Roberts is now considered as one of Britain’s top fighters and could well be an imposing figure on the welterweight title scene in the near future. He is certainly impressive but time will tell if he can capture that elusive title belt that he is forcefully pursuing. Maybe in a few years time we can see another British UFC champion clutching the title belt in euphoria in the middle of the Octagon. Of all the British fighters competing today, it’s hard to look past that envisaged champion being Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts.
By Harry Robinson