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Daniel Pineda more interested in winning bonuses than rankings: ‘I’m fighting for the money’

MMA: MAR 25 UFC on ESPN 43 Photo by Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Daniel Pineda is proud to be a prizefighter.

While some UFC fighters are worried about rankings or chasing after championship titles, the 37-year-old veteran with more than 40 fights on his résumé doesn’t disguise what he’s after whenever he sets foot in the octagon. Obviously, Pineda wants to win more than anything, but what he’s really after is the biggest paycheck possible.

“It’s the money, the bonuses,” Pineda told MMA Fighting. “Those bonuses will change your life. We get so much money, but when we get that bonus, that’s what I’m looking for. I’m fighting for the money.

“They say there’s a lot of money on social media. I don’t even get into social media. I’m more into, let’s get this fight going, let me get this money, let me take care of my family.”

The way Pineda seeks to earn his money comes through some of the most exciting fights in the sport, with a résumé to back up that reputation. Through 28 career victories, Pineda has a remarkable 100-percent finishing rate, with nine knockouts and 19 submissions.

Even in defeat, Pineda prefers going out on his shield than allowing the three judges sitting cageside to hand down a verdict to determine whether he wins or loses.

“I don’t get paid to go in there and leave it to the judges,” Pineda said. “First of all, half the judges don’t know what they’re doing. They go the wrong way and s*** like that. I train to finish. You go in there to beat that guy. There’s only me and that guy in there. So one of us is going to leave that b**** with our hand raised and the other one is going to leave crying. That’s it.

“You’ve got go in there and give everything you have. Don’t leave it to the judges.”

Pineda is currently in the middle of his second UFC stint after his first run lasted seven fights. This time around, Pineda scored a knockout in his return to the promotion, then pulled off a nasty guillotine choke submission in his most recent outing back in March, both of which earned him Performance of the Night bonuses.

That win actually marked the end of his four-fight contract with the UFC, but Pineda says the organization wasted no time signing him to a new deal, which he believes is just a testament to the work he’s been doing since coming back.

“It feels good, especially being my last fight [on the contract] and getting called for a five-fight deal and getting me the money that I was looking for, that I wanted. It feels good,” Pineda said. “That was my last fight [on the contract] and I kind of wanted it like that, to gamble. You win, you get more money, better fights, or lose and just go home and cry and retire, and everything went good.

“You’ve always got to gamble on yourself. You’ve always got to believe in yourself. The same thing, the way I fight — you go out there and give it all you’ve got, and like they say, it’s kill or be killed.”

For his next fight against Alex Caceres at UFC Vegas 74, Pineda serves as the co-main event, which isn’t where he usually finds himself slotted when a bout order is announced.

Deep down, Pineda believes at least part of the reason why he’s in a marquee position is because the UFC knows what to expect whenever he fights, which he knows probably also played a factor in earning him that new five-fight contract.

“It feels good. I think they’re just starting to notice it,” Pineda said. “They’re noticing that I have all finishes. I’m going to go in there and try to kill somebody. Try to take them out quick. First round, second round, take them out. The third round, I’ll be getting tired so let’s not go to no third round.”

Saturday’s fight also gives Pineda the chance to face an opponent in Caceres, who currently sits in the UFC’s rankings in the featherweight division.

As much as that might matter to some fighters looking to climb the ladder in the division, Pineda couldn’t care less about the number next to Caceres’ name as long as he shows up ready to throw down.

“The rankings, it’s cool, but we’re going out there to put on some exciting fights and get those bonuses,” Pineda said. “Now that I’m co-main event, it’s even a better chance at getting that goddamn bonus.

“Usually I’m one of the first fights and I still get the bonus. Now hopefully everything goes good and Alex comes, he puts on a fight, and we get the bonus.”

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