“I am looking to take on bigger and badder prey,” Bellator kickboxing champion Raymond Daniels explained during the Bellator 245/246 media day on Wednesday.
Is he ever. Daniels, who returns to MMA at Bellator 245 on Friday, is set to face Peter Stanonik. Not exactly a household name, and Stanonik is barely above .500 with a 5-4 record. But it’s worth noting that like Daniels himself, Stanonik has also fought as a kickboxer, and done rather well.
Stanonik is not what Daniels has in mind when he talks about bigger prey, however. These days, it’s MMA gold that is on Daniel’s mind. “I do consider myself an elite athlete. I want to go for the Bellator gold, which is [welterweight champ] Douglas Lima. So that is my goal, that is my target right now. This is just another stepping stone for me to get to that direction.”
Daniels tends to get a lot of questions about his strength of competition, given he’s set on a title shot. But it’s important to note that the kickboxing champion has only had three MMA fights to date, and two for Bellator. After an early misfire in 2008, Daniels has won both his fights in the Bellator cage. His first went viral, as it was a 720 right hook KO with enough revolutions leading up to it to make you dizzy.
With a couple of wins, Daniels noted that while he’s the Bellator kickboxing world champion, “I’m feeling at home here in the MMA world.” And given he that Douglas Lima are under the same organizational umbrella, he had a rather interesting proposal.
Daniels noted that plenty of fighters “are willing to go after something that somebody else has.” That tends to mean a move up, or down, to a second weight class, with another title in mind. But, he noted, “usually they don’t want to risk what they have, they just want to take something that belongs to somebody else.”
That’s not that case with Daniels. “I want to present a challenge to Douglas Lima: I’m willing to risk my kickboxing title versus his MMA title,” he proclaimed. “They say steel sharpens steel, iron sharpens iron. I’m willing to test my mettle against his mettle.”
How the logistics of such a fight would work is a question mark. Is Douglas about to take up kickboxing? But on paper, the champ vs. champ angle is a very cool idea from a fighter who, while he may be a late bloomer in MMA, has definitely arrived.
At 40, Daniels has picked up some wisdom, and learned from that first MMA fight, which he entered with no ground skills whatsoever. And while older, he may not have the mileage some fighters have. “The beautiful things is that I come from a different background than the typical MMA person. I’m not the typical MMA athlete. Even with the way I fight, it’s not typically like an MMA fighter is able to fight. I come from a sport martial arts background,” noted Daniels.
“Martial arts is kind of like a fountain of youth. That’s what I call it,” he continued. Daniels works with future generations of the martial artists, something he says keeps him young. His wife, Colbey Northcutt, is also a fighter. “I guess you would say I’m a late bloomer, but I always arrive on time,” he added.
Not only has he arrived, said Daniels, but “you won’t meet a 20 or 30 year old that can be faster than I am.” Even training with athletes like Georges St. Pierre and Rory MacDonald, that speed advantage has held, said Daniels. “A couple of my sparring partners were in their 20s, and I’m still 10 times faster than they were, and I think it’s because of my background.”
Bellator 245 takes place this Friday, September 11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The event airs live on Paramount Network.