As soon as the fighters land a UFC contract, the countdown to debut begins. Many dare to take fights on days notice to get to the Octagon as soon as possible, but that is not the case with Daniel Zellhuber.
The ‘Golden Boy’ is 22 years old and has an undefeated record in 12 professional fights. Before facing Lucas Almeida in September at the Dana White’s Contender Series, when he won his contract, he was already one of the candidates to become the promoter after shining in Combate Americas, where he became stellar at age 19, and Lux Fight League in his last fights before making the jump.
Zellhuber wants to stay undefeated and live up to the high expectations he has generated, which is why he wants to finish college before moving to America and focusing 100 percent on the UFC.
“I have four months to go to finish my degree in physical therapy. I have the support of my family, my coaches and my managers, in general they have all supported me a lot in the decisions I have made. I just try to do my style, working hard. I want to spend half the year in the United States training hard, calmly knowing that I am going to be moving to a bigger gym and I am very clear about my goals, “he explained in an interview with ESPN Deportes.
Zellhuber, originally from the state of Mexico, convinced Dana White to contract him with a war against Almeida, who arrived as champion of the renowned Brazilian promotion Jungle Fight. He currently works with coach Miguel Romero and Christian del Mal, but will make the leap to Las Vegas to work with one of the most recognized coaches in recent years in Eric Nicksick, corner of heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou.
“The best option is to go to Extreme Couture, I already spoke with my coaches, managers and the coaches there in Las Vegas. We want to take advantage of the Performance Institute. Few athletes go and really take advantage of all the infrastructure they have, I want to take advantage of all that. By the time I am in my career, it is the best, to go to PI and train with coaches like Eric Nicksick or Ray Seefo, who are recognized worldwide ”, he added.
Although his debut will then be in the second half of 2022, Zellhuber has conditions rarely seen in a Mexican lightweight fighter. His 1.91 height, explosiveness in standing play and submission skills make him a great promise, but he’s in no rush, once the UFC backed his decision to finish school before giving him a date.
“I know it’s a long time, because the Mexicans who won their contract at the Contender Series are going to be debuting soon. But good things take time, I think I’m one of the youngest right now in the entire UFC and I want to take advantage of that. There is the case of Edmen Shahbazyan, they threw him very fast and it is not an easy level to maintain. Once you get to the top, you can’t get out, you can’t ask for easier rivals, I want to take my time and take each step well ”, I detail.
Zellhuber was part of the camp in Mexico where Yair Rodríguez prepared for his match against Max Holloway this year. and due to his unpredictable style and variety of attacks, she considers him a role model.
“With Yair he is the one I compare myself with the most, because he is also a very good person, he is what I liked the most about living with him, realizing that he is a fighter who is at the level he is and he is still someone simple. He likes to be good with people, his style because more in this fight he showed some of the things that I like to do to me, to be agile, to kick, to get things out of my sleeve. If I had to mention a Mexican fighter who inspired me and who was similar to my style, it would be Yair, “he confessed.
Beyond that ability to surprise his rivals, Zellhuber believes that his key to success to finish in nine of his 12 victories is to use the tools at the right time.
While he’s patient to figure out who his first opponent will be in the Octagon, Zellhuber hopes it will be a renowned veteran or a rising star: “Someone I’d like to fight a lot would be Paddy Pimblett, someone who’s coming up, has only one fight and a lot of style, I feel like it would be a very good fight ”.
The ‘Golden Boy’ was one of five Mexican-born fighters who will debut in the UFC in 2022 after the Contender Series season, along with Víctor Altamirano, Genaro Valdez, Christian Quiñonez and Manuel Torres.