UFC Vegas 65: Danny Roberts fueled by tragic family accident

Danny Roberts
Danny Roberts /

Danny Roberts takes on Jack Della Maddalena in a 170-pound matchup this Saturday at UFC Vegas 65.

For nearly eight years, UFC fans have had the pleasure of watching Danny “Hot Chocolate” Roberts put on exciting fights. The English veteran makes his return to the Octagon this Saturday at UFC Vegas 65, where he’ll take on the rising Australian prospect Jack Della Maddalena.

At this stage in his career, there isn’t much that a veteran like Roberts hasn’t dealt with in the lead-up to one of his fights. However, no one can prepare themselves for the sort of tragedy that Roberts and his family have dealt with over the last several months, regarding Roberts’ late niece Caira Hill.

“Kyra Hill. She sadly passed away. She drowned in the summer… It was tragic the way that it happened…11 years old, breaks my heart,” Roberts told FanSided’s Amy Kaplan at UFC media day.

It’s hard to imagine staying focused on your career after a tragedy of that magnitude. However, Roberts credits his family, as well as all of the hardships that he’s faced, as being key to Roberts continuing down his path as a fighter.

“My family and what we’ve been through have inspired me to keep pushing. All the things that I’ve enjoyed and been through, the ups and downs throughout life, have made me who I am today. The substance, the inner strength, the perseverance…all of these elements come from hardships and stress,” he said. “Now after everything that happened with Kyra and the family I just want to make them proud. I want to go out there and still be able to continue to do what I do, and tribute to Kyra. I know she’ll be looking down and she’ll be there supporting me. It’s big for me, this.”

There is Change campaign set up in Kyra’s honor, petitioning foe Liquid Leisure – an aqua park facility in Windsor, Berkshire to be closed due to the incident.

Despite entering Saturday’s matchup as a sizeable underdog, Roberts is no stranger to the underdog role. He sees some similarities between his 2019 fight with Zelim Imadaev and his upcoming bout with Della Maddalena.

“If we look at the principles that surrounded going over to Russia, being the underdog, going in the backyard of a Dagestani…It was crazy, ya know?” said Roberts.

“All odds against us. Someone again, like my opponent coming up, who was favored to be one of the next prospects. Where is he now, you know what I’m saying”?

Roberts’ staying power has certainly proved to be strong throughout his UFC career. And while Della Maddalena may have given some criticism to Roberts’ technical abilities, Roberts offered some advice to Australia’s whiz kid.

“Shut your mouth. Who are you, bro? You’ve had two fights in the UFC,” said Roberts.

“Styles make fights. There are a lot of elements that have been going on with me throughout the time I’ve been in the UFC. But guess what? I’ve prevailed. I’ve got substance. I’m still here. I’m still fighting. That’s something which speaks volumes in itself, regardless of the outcomes that I’ve had.”

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UFC Vegas 65 takes place on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, live from the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV. Follow along with FanSided MMA for all your news and highlights.