I’ll preface this by making it clear that I’m not in any way disparaging Danis’ actual skills or competitive career. He isn’t going to end up in the Jiu-Jitsu hall of fame but he has earned some solid wins over the likes of AJ Agazarm, Josh Hinger and Jackson Souza. He even collected a few high-profile medals on his way through the coloured belts before becoming the Pan-Am No-Gi Champion in 2016. These matches were relatively quiet affairs with minimal press coverage of Danis individually. It wasn’t until he started to gear up towards his MMA debut that he started to hit the headlines, and usually for the wrong reason.
I’ll strangle you to death, then I’ll choke you again and break your fuckin’ legs ’til your bones poke through your skin pic.twitter.com/Fny5zfPW12— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) May 24, 2019
His Jiu-Jitsu skills are not in doubt.
The real issue for debate is his actions and the way they reflect on the sport. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got absolutely no problem with trash talk in MMA. It helps build hype around a fight and, in most cases at least, it doesn’t do any harm. But no matter how much you’re a fan of trash talk in combat sports, there’s always fighters who take it too far or just manage to come off as a genuinely awful person in the process (cough, the entire lead up to Conor v. Khabib, cough).
Some fighters have perfected the art of trash talk and used it to propel their careers to places they wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
But for every Chael Sonnen, there’s a Dillon Danis lurking around the corner.
There’s something about all of Danis’ brash and bold statements that doesn’t come off as genuine. Something seems forced and as a result, nobody seems to be buying what he’s selling. A lot of fans are seeing his public persona as a knock-off Mcgregor. They see someone who wouldn’t be the person they are if they didn’t get a lucky chance. For Danis, he was called over to SBG Ireland back in 2016.
not a man alive that can stop me. pic.twitter.com/VQzSrxtJmp— Dillon Danis (@dillondanis) May 15, 2019
This change was something that forced one of the nicest guys in BJJ, Marcelo Garcia, to disown Danis and cut off the relationship they had. When one of the greats thinks that strongly about your actions, alarm bells should be ringing out for change but sadly, they weren’t.
Since then, Danis’ actions have only gotten worse. A few sources claimed that he initiated the brawl at UFC 229 by throwing some racial slurs at the physical instigator, Khabib Nurmagomedov. He’s always denied this so it may end up as one of those things that we’ll never know for sure. He definitely exchanged heated words with the champion. His actions as the brawl was raging didn’t paint him in a good light, either. Many people would think that something of this magnitude might be the catalyst for him to finally start changing the way he wants to be seen.
Just the other day, Danis showed he’s still not done catering to the worst aspects of social media.
He posed for photos with two of Bellator’s championship belts. Belts that were brought to the press conference by champions who’d lost sweat and blood to earn them.
This was another move that the majority of fans saw through almost immediately. You can’t pose with belts you haven’t won. More importantly, you can’t pose with belts you haven’t won when you’ve got a 1-0 record against a fighter who has lost more fights than he’s won and was on a two-fight losing streak already.
When all is said and done, Danis is still only 25 years old. There’s plenty of time for him to outgrow this. There’s every chance that in a decade he’ll look back on this with the wisdom of age and it’ll be an embarrassing footnote in an otherwise professional career. However, there’s an equal chance that he’ll rise to the top and his antics will keep escalating as he forces his statements to become reality.
Only time will tell.