Raymond Daniels has made a career out of scoring spellbinding knockouts, but even the striking ace admits that he’s been blown away by the reaction to the spectacular spinning punch that finished his Bellator MMA debut against Wilker Barros on Saturday in Birmingham.
Daniels underlined that he isn’t getting carried away with the viral frenzy that took place after his first-round stoppage, but also highlighted that he isn’t particularly surprised that the bout came to a conclusion in the manner that it did.
“I try not to get on the hype train with these things,” Daniels told MMA Fighting. “Everybody has been blowing this up, but I never want to be the person that believes my own hype and get caught up in these things.
“For me, that’s just another day in the office,” he continued. “I’m accustomed to that kind of thing; it’s what I feel like I’ve been doing my whole career. This just happened to be my Bellator MMA debut. That made it important to me. I had that MMA debut all those years ago, I was a young kid and I wasn’t prepared mentally or physically. This time around I went in with a whole new set of eyes and whole different confidence in aura about myself, so I was able to be in there and be at my best and that’s when I can produce results like that.”
Despite the lofty plaudits that have already been tossed around regarding the finish—many have already claimed that it’s a shoe-in for ‘Knockout of the Year’—Daniels doesn’t consider it his best knockout to date.
“I honestly don’t think it’s the best knockout I’ve had and now people are calling it the best knockout of the century or the decade, or whatever. I’ve already had other knockouts that have been labeled with that and they were some of my previous knockouts. This is just the new thing that I did. There are going to be people who love and people who hate it, but as long as they’re tuning into it, that’s all that really matters.”
The footage of Daniel’s dazzling dusting was featured on international sports broadcasts, including SportsCenter, and he admitted that he was happy to have stood out from the crowd in a weekend full of fights; from the UFC, to Bellator, to Saul “Canelo” Alvarez’s boxing bout with Daniel Jacobs.
“How many fights were there this weekend? Bellator, UFC…and don’t forget Canelo. I always love to fight on a weekend where there are a lot of fights like that because that gives me an opportunity to show everybody. We had all of these great fighters in action and I wanted to show everybody that I could do something that stood out,” he explained.
“Even at the Bellator event…Brent Primus’s gogoplata was awesome. There were three up kicks to a stand up and then a knockout [by Fabian Edwards], that was amazing! That entire card was off the hook, but to even top those two finishes, I was like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t believe that.’ I try to set the bar; I enjoy doing it. I like to be in the company of all of those great fighters so I can show that I can shine even brighter. Granted, some of those guys got a lot more money than I did, but I guarantee they did not get the same amount of views as I did.”
Daniels explained how the spinning back kick he dropped Barros with led to scintillating finale.
“People only notice that last spinning sequence,” he said. “When I hit him with the back kick, I actually hit him in the liver. He bounced twice because I hit him with a lot of force; he was actually a little bit hurt from that. I could’ve rushed in and tried to finish him with some ground and pound. That stuff looks cool and it’s awesome—don’t get me wrong—but I don’t think it’s as spectacular as some fighters could finish if they were just a little bit more patient. I didn’t want to be too aggressive. I asked him politely to get up, he did. Then I figured that he couldn’t back up any more because he was standing with his back to the fence; he had been doing a really good job of dodging my spin kicks.”
Perhaps as impressive as the finish itself, Daniels revealed that he decided how he would finish the fight as he was spinning through the air.
“As I went into the first rotation I could feel him back up because I kind of have an awareness of how close or far I am. As I’m in the first rotation, I’m already in it so I have to keep going with the motion, it’s not like I can bail out in the middle of it. When I’m coming around the second time, I’ve now had two looks at him—on the first rotation he flinched and on the second rotation he flinched again. I knew if I tried to throw a kick I wouldn’t land it, and if I missed with that kick, it’s really powerful, I could’ve put myself in a very bad position,” he said.
“At the stage I was just like, ‘I’m going to come down with my right hand,’ because I knew I would be way of the line if he tried to come back and counter me. When I came down with the right hand it landed cleaner than I possibly could’ve imagined.”
Already a multiple time world champion across various striking disciplines, Daniels insisted he would continue on his MMA journey in the near future.
“I’m definitely going back into the MMA world. I plan on rising to the top of the MMA rankings. I’m just going to be patient. I wanted to announce myself in MMA in a big fashion, I guess I’ve done that, but I’ve also painted a big target on my chest and on my back. There are going to people coming at me from all directions, calling me out and wanting to fight. I wanted to do something that the whole world would see, and I guess it worked out for me.”
We broke down the Bellator Birmingham event on the latest episode of Eurobash. Check it out below: