The last time the fight world saw American striking savant Raymond Daniels in action, he was in Las Vegas getting drilled with punches he couldn’t see from an elite fighter.
Daniels was stopped by current Glory welterweight champion Nieky Holzken thanks to a gruesome laceration he suffered around his left eye. Now that he’s healed, Daniels is ready to help Bellator take kickboxing into the mainstream.
Daniels (7-3, 3 KOs) has spent nearly his entire life tearing up the opposition in various kickboxing leagues and sport karate tournaments. With hundreds of matches under his belt, the Californian admitted that he had never bet cut as badly as he was at Glory 23. He said that he didn’t even know he was wounded until it was too late.
“When you’re fighting, you have so much adrenaline going on that you don’t really notice it,” Daniels told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “The only reason I noticed that one is because the blood was coming down into my eye and my vision was blurred. All I could see was red, and it felt like someone was flicking me. That’s all I felt. And with someone like Nieky, you don’t want to be fighting him blind.”
Often when fighters get knocked out, they tend to be leery when returning to camp. Many fighters are never the same after being knocked out, but what about suffering a nasty slice to the flesh? Daniels revealed that, when first he climbed back into the ring to train, he was worried.
“The skin is naturally going to be more tender and susceptible to being cut again,” he elaborated. “I normally don’t ever take a shot like that, but when I did get back to full training, I got hit a few times right in that spot. Once I got hit, I went over and checked the mirror a few times to make sure my skin held up. When I realized I wasn’t cut and that my skin was holding up, it was back to normal.”
Now that he’s fully healed and focused on exploding onto the elite kickboxing stage, Daniels is primed for Saturday night’s Bellator 152 in Torino, Italy. The event will double as the debut of Bellator Kickboxing, and Daniels couldn’t be happier. Kickboxing has remained largely invisible in America, but Daniels is confident that is about to change.
“Bellator is right at the top in terms of putting on great fighting promotions,” he stated. “I’ve been watching their events for a long time and I think they do a terrific job of promoting not only their fighters, but also their events. They take care of their athletes and allow them to get all sorts of sponsors. How they treat and promote their fighters is something that the kickboxing world has really been missing in order to have them get mainstream, in order for them to be seen, at least here in America. Kickboxing is huge in Europe, but in America, nobody knows about it. I think Bellator can turn kickboxers into household names like what we have in MMA and boxing.”
With that said, Daniels believes he has the answers as to what needs to occur in the states for kickboxing and muay Thai to finally catch on with the masses.
“It’s a combination of things,” he began. “For one, you need to have the company or promotion that has the resources and the know-how in order to not only get the right fighters, but also knows how to market them and the product. You can have the best fighters in the world but if nobody is watching you or doesn’t know where to look, what good is it? On the flipside, you need to have not just the best kickboxers in the world, you need a few of them who can actually be superstars whether that’s just by how they fight or if they have big personalities. But if a promotion has all the resources and know-how, but they have the wrong fighters, what good is it?
“That’s where Bellator comes in,” he continued. “They have the Spike deal, they have the resources, they know how to market the hell out of the events and fighters. They’ve proven themselves with MMA because they are able to compete head-to-head with the UFC and now they are in the kickboxing world. I don’t see this not working. All they need now is a group of elite fighters with the right personalities to turn this thing into something huge. I know they can do it.”
Even with everything that is going down in the world of American kickboxing, Daniels can’t achieve anything if he doesn’t rebound from the loss to Holzken and conquer Francesco Moricca (15-2-1) on Saturday. Moricca is not a well-known fighter, but that doesn’t mean that the American will steamroll him -- or does it?
“The way I see him is that he’s more of the cookie-cutter style of kickboxer,” Daniels said of his opponent. “He’s cut from the same mold as a lot of the Europeans who use the Dutch style, and that’s good because that means he knows what he’s doing, he has very good technique and he’s tough. He’s very aggressive and I look forward to fighting him because he should be a great challenge for me. I plan on going into his backyard and showing everybody there that Bellator Kickboxing is for real and I expect to gain some new fans.
“However,” Daniels added with a sinister chuckle. “I’ve already seen footage of him and I know what to do. I don’t really like giving out predictions as to what I’m going to do but I will say that I been working on this new spin kick that I plan to unleash. It will be a body shot and he won’t be able to get up. If he somehow does, he certainly won’t after the second one. It will happen in the first round.”
Bellator Kickboxing airs Friday, April 22, on Spike TV.
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