Raymond Daniels has told ESPN he is coming for top fighters in Bellator’s welterweight division after footage of his spectacular first round knockout of Wilker Barros at Bellator Birmingham went viral last weekend.
Daniels, who is welterweight champion in Bellator MMA’s sister promotion, Bellator Kickboxing, secured his first ever win in MMA last weekend with a 720 spinning right hook — described by ESPN’s Ariel Helwani as a knockout of the year contender — with less than 30 seconds remaining in the first round.
“My goal is always to go out there and show the beauty of my art form, so I was planning on knocking Barros out with something super spectacular,” the American said.
“I hit him with a spin kick right before that, which kind of damaged his liver and dropped him. That was my ‘Bat Signal’ for my super move, or whatever.”
Daniels, 39, holds a kickboxing record of 35-3. Of those wins, 22 have come by knockout and his resume includes a number of gold medals and world titles. ‘The Real Deal’ had previously only competed once in MMA, suffering a submission loss 11 years ago, but revealed that Bellator president Scott Coker had been impressed with his performances in Bellator Kickboxing and so invited him to compete under the promotion’s MMA banner.
“Eleven years ago, I was in a much different place — physically, mentally and spiritually. It wasn’t the right time for me,” Daniels said.
“In life, everybody has things that they wish they could go back and change. I failed really bad on my first attempt, so I always had it in the back of my mind that I was going to go back and try MMA.”
While Daniels plans to continue defending his Bellator Kickboxing welterweight title, he expressed a great desire to further his MMA career, and is even eyeing the promotion’s MMA welterweight strap.
“I had a lot of people telling me not to take this risk, because of the possibility of damaging my legacy,” Daniels admitted. “But I plan on coming for the top brass in the 170lb division. I look forward to being the champ-champ in two different fighting forums.”
Should Daniels succeed in becoming a two-belt champion, it would be yet another dream realised by the American. Aged 21, Daniels fulfilled his childhood aspiration of becoming a police officer, by serving in the Long Beach Police Department. But after seven years of service, Daniels found his priorities had changed.
“I wanted to help people and give back to the community,” Daniels said. “But I had some things that changed my perspective on life. I had a son when I was really young, and his mother passed away while I was a police officer and while my son was very young.
“So, say there was a shooting and I was the person running towards the danger, my outlook on that kind of changed, knowing that I’m the only surviving parent for my child.”
Daniels — whose son is now 21, a black belt in karate, and has served three years in the military — has since found other ways of giving back to the community.
He runs the World Champion Karate school in Orange County, a venture that allows him to keep local children in the ring and off the streets.
“I’m able to influence kids’ lives to make sure they’re never in the back seat of a police car,” Daniels added.