This weekend Bellator presents Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2, a hybrid MMA and kickboxing event followed by Bellator Kickboxing 2. At Bellator Kickboxing 2 Raymond Daniels will be one of the banner fighters, taking on Stefano Bruno during the telecast. Whenever Daniels is in the ring you can expect something spectacular and in his first Bellator bout Daniels delivered exactly that. In just 30 seconds he was able to finish Francisco Morrica with a spinning back kick, the move that has become a pro wrestling-like finisher of sorts for Daniels.
But the thing is, Daniels has been working incredibly hard on rounding out his kickboxing game and he’s rarely getting to show it. “Yeah, you know,” Daniels told us, “it’s funny because we do all of these things in training camp and have plans to try them out, but the openings are there, so I take them and I knock guys out.”
Raymond Daniels is acutely aware that he provides what nobody else in professional kickboxing currently can in spectacular knockouts. He’s even got a signature kick that is credited with many of his knockout victories. Does it bother Daniels, though? “Not really. I know what I’m capable of, I know what I train and people will get to see it eventually. We always plan on showing off what I’ve learned, but I’ve mastered certain techniques -- and when I say master I mean that I’ve been practicing them for years -- and it’s like what Bruce Lee said; ‘I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.’ There are just certain techniques that I know when to set up, I know how I’m going to land, what happens if I miss. So yeah, when I see that opening I’m going for it.”
As Daniels continues forward in Bellator and becomes more and more synonymous with crazy knockouts and one of the more recognizable names in kickboxing, the question comes of what does Daniels look to do with his future. Does he stay humble and teaching karate, or does he have to move on? “I’ll always find time to teach,” he explained. “It’s a part of me and it’s so important to me. I think about what it did for me growing up, how it helped to shape and mold me. You don’t have to go on to become a world champion for martial arts training to be important in your life. When I was a kid I thought that I had it all figured out, but now that I’m older I realize that while I’m in a better position, I’m still not perfect. I’ve got an 18 year old son that just graduated from high school and he’s trying to figure his life out, it’s funny because he has these plans and he thinks that he’s got it figured out, now it’s his time to learn that he can be wrong.”
When it comes to fighting, though, Daniels does have his eyes on the prize. While he’s not overlooking his opponent this weekend, he will be looking for another spectacular knockout. “That’s just what I do. Against that traditional kickboxing and muay thai style I’m able to really frustrate guys, to make them move like they aren’t comfortable, to be aware that I hit from different angles. It keeps them on edge.”
But for the future? “Karim Ghajji won that title on the first show and I’m not that guy, I’m not gonna call out the champion before he has a chance to settle in. Let him have his moment, let him be happy with his accomplishments, but I’m coming for him. I’m a world champion, that’s what I do. I’m not looking beyond this next fight, but the way I see it, if I win this fight and get another big knockout I’ve got a pretty good claim to challenge for that title. Then I can make my way to another world title. That’s just what I do.”
Daniels does make a point, I can’t imagine anyone else challenging Karim Ghajji at this point. We’ll have to tune in this weekend to see what Daniels brings to the table and if we get another spectacular knockout. Bellator Kickboxing 2 airs directly after Bellator MMA: Dynamite 2 on Friday, June 24th.