Daniel Pineda’s second UFC run starts Saturday at UFC 252. It’s a return six years in the making.
Since his last UFC bout in 2016, Pineda has fought all over the place, frankly. LFA. Bellator. The PFL. Through all of that, he believed a return to the octagon would happen.
“I knew I was going to come back and give it another run. I’ve been telling my coaches and everybody, ‘I’m going to give it another run,'” he told media outlets including Cageside Press at the UFC 252 media day this week. “And this is the run I’m giving it right now.”
Pineda (26-13, 2NC) found a fair amount of success outside the UFC. But a berth in the PFL featherweight championship final last year was nixed by a positive drug test. Not one but two wins — in a single night back in October — were overturned to no contests. A situation that Pineda said simply “sucked.”
No doubt. A shot at a million dollars slipped through his fingers. With that in mind, Pineda said the plan for his second UFC run is to “get to the top and make as much money as I can. That’s exactly what my second run is. Make as much money as I can, so I can support my baby and my girl at home.”
Pineda has drawn Herbert Burns in his return. The bout is part of the UFC 252 main card, on PPV. Surprising many, Burns has called Pineda more dangerous than featherweight champ Alexander Volkanovski.
“He has respect. Same respect I’ve got for him,” Pineda told Cageside Press when asked about Burns’ comments. “He’s good. He’s a world-class jiu-jitsu guy. We have respect for each other. We know it’s going to be a fight, we know it’s going to be a war, and that’s why we’re on the main card now. Everybody’s expecting a war, and there is going to be a war.”
Burns, much like brother Gilbert, is known for his jiu-jitsu prowess. But he’s also a well-rounded fighter. Asked if he was looking to force a stand-up battle, Pineda was more focused on ensuring he doesn’t see the judges. “I’m going to try to finish him or he’s going to finish me. It’s one of them two. I don’t like decisions. I’ve never gone to a decision. All of them [his wins] are finishes. So one of us is going to get finished. If it’s him or if it’s me, it’s going to be a good fight.”
While Pineda has lost by decision, all twenty-six wins have, in fact, come via stoppage. He’ll look to continue that at UFC 252 on Saturday night.
Watch the full UFC 252 media day press scrum with Daniel Pineda above.