It may have been his first MMA win, but Raymond Daniels’s viral knockout in his Bellator debut guaranteed there would be major buzz around who he might face in the future.
Consider that the kickboxing star’s 720-punch KO took place in Birmingham, England, and it doesn’t take matchmaker Rich Chou to figure out that Daniels might pair up nicely with U.K. star Michael “Venom” Page, who has his own reel of internet-breaking finishes.
Add in the fact that Daniels and Page have a history dating back to their sport karate days (Daniels recalls defeating Page more often than not when they met at tournaments) and it seems only natural that these flashy fighters should eventually meet in the cage.
While Daniels agrees with the suggestion in theory, his relationship with Page means he isn’t in any rush to take on “MVP”
“I wouldn’t necessarily go out of my way to fight Mike because we come from the same background,” Daniels told MMA Fighting. “I like Mike, he’s actually a pretty good friend of mine. He comes from the same sport that I do, the same background, his style is kind of similar to mine because when he was doing the sport karate thing he kind of [based] his style after my style, then he went over to MMA before I did. So technically he’s my senior now in MMA because he has more experience in that side of it.
“But if we had to cross paths, I wouldn’t have a problem fighting him if he had the title or something like that, but I don’t go out of my way to fight him. If it makes dollars, then it makes sense, I wouldn’t have a problem and I’m sure Mike wouldn’t either.”
Page has been competing for Bellator since 2013 and already faced off with the likes of champion Douglas Lima and Paul Daley among other notable names. However, it’s not out of the question that a matchup with the relatively inexperienced (at least as far as MMA goes) Daniels could materialize given that several of Page’s recent opponents have been newer additions to the roster.
Should they someday fight, Daniels warns that their similar styles could end up canceling each other out.
“It would be more like, the spectacular stuff you see us throw at other people, we both understand why we’re throwing those things so then it’s like, ‘Okay, they’re not really throwing anything,’” Daniels said. “Because both of us understand you can get hit if you do—So it becomes more of like a chess match and it’s not as interesting, I don’t think, but it might be. You never know.”
While Daniels lacks cagefighting mileage, the 39-year-old is a lifelong martial artist with an illustrious kickboxing career that includes stops in GLORY, Chuck Norris’s World Combat League, and an 8-0 mark in Bellator Kickboxing, where he currently holds a welterweight title.
Even with that combat sports pedigree, Daniels isn’t looking past the debuting Jason King, his opponent at Saturday’s Bellator 238 show at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif. King has a reputation for not going to the scorecards and knowing this, Daniels is sticking to his game plan, which just so happens to be a crowd-pleasing one.
“I go in there and I’m always trying to put on a show,” Daniels said. “I think that my style itself is kind of like a highlight style or a flashy style, like a lot of the moves that I throw are high-risk, high-reward moves, so not a lot of people are really familiar with the type of things that I’m doing. A lot of times people are seeing them as highlight moves but for me they’re actually moves that I do on a daily basis, so it’s not anything spectacular for me, it’s just something that I normally do.
“But most people don’t do those types of moves so therefore it seems a little bit different. Like a person throws a jab or a cross, for me that’s like a spin back kick or a spinning hook kick. It’s because I’ve been doing it for so many years of my life that it’s just second nature to me.”
Though he’s considerably older than your average Bellator rookie, Daniels boasts about beating Father Time and targets a matchup with a top-ranked welterweight by the end of the year. He’s encouraged by the ascent of kickboxers like Page and UFC middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, and maintains that his end goal is to add Bellator gold to his collection.
“I see amazing fighters like Israel coming over and he has a different style that people haven’t seen before and seeing him have that type of success is amazing, I’m a huge fan of his,” Daniels said. “I love his style, his charisma, it’s great, but I look forward to climbing the ranks [myself]. I want to get a few more fights under my belt this year, so I would have this fight, I would like to fight a couple more times before summertime comes around. I would actually like to fight about four times this year and that fourth fight being up with the top tier of the Bellator welterweight bracket.
“But I think obviously I’ve got to focus on this fight with Jason King. He’s the next level of fighter that I need to fight in order to move my ultimate goal, because when I do something I don’t plan on just doing it or take a part in it. I want to be the best and right now in my weight class Douglas Lima is the best, so therefore that’s where my aim will be.”
For more from Daniels, check out his fight week interview with MMA Fighting: