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'Real Deal' Daniels: 'Holzken is a bull, I am a matador'

Raymond ‘Real Deal’ Daniels (27-2, 17 KO's) and Nieky ‘The Natural’ Holzken (86-11, 45 KO's) are competing in the main event of GLORY 23 LAS VEGAS this Friday. They first met in the final of the GLORY 19 Welterweight Contender Tournament, with Holzken stopping Daniels in the second round. Holzken thinks he has Daniels’ number but the karate expert says things will be very different in this rematch.

Raymond Daniels rematches Nieky Holzken at GLORY 23 LAS VEGAS this Friday
Raymond Daniels rematches Nieky Holzken at GLORY 23 LAS VEGAS this Friday
GLORY World Series

"There will be a lot of difference. I don't want to reveal my entire gameplan but one thing I can say is that I will be at 100% . If you look at my fight record, most people don't last that long with me. Nieky happened to catch me when I was a little gassed, a little fatigued," Daniels says.

"I take nothing away from him, he was the better fighter than me on the night and in that situation. But The only fights I have lost [in GLORY] have been in tournaments, you know? The tournament format is still new to me. I lost to Joe Valtellini and that fight introduced me to leg kicks. With Nieky I went to the second round with a high-caliber fighter but I had no gas in the tank.

"That was partly to do with things like lack of hydration between fights and things like that, my camp being new to having multiple fights in one night. So I am really looking forward to this fight and to Nieky absorbing all that energy that I put out because in the tournament Jonathan Oliveira absorbed all the energy that I put out [in our semi-final fight].

"Oliveira is a tough guy, I hit him with some really hard shots and he kept pushing forward. So that kind of gassed me out and I think that me being at 100% for a fight with Nieky makes it a different ballgame."

Daniels has made a name for himself over the years with gymnastic, gravity-defying highlight-reel knockouts. But most of his career was spent in point-karate and he is very new to professional kickboxing. It has been a steep learning curve for him. His style requires a lot of space and distance and Holzken was able to shut that down and trap him in corners where he could hammer him with body shots.

"During that fight I wasn't able to keep him away and keep my distance, my range. I think that was because I was gassed, it makes it easier for someone to walk you down. What he wants and what I want are opposites: I want space, he wants to close that space down," Daniels concurs.

"But [this time] he will have to walk through a hell storm in order to get to me. Nieky has got a lot of heart, he comes forward like a bull. But if he is a bull then I am a matador, you know? Yes, it's a little bit tricky but I enjoy it, there's a chess-match element to it.

"And also I have now had the opportunity to see what he has got to offer, I don't think there's much more to his game than what I have seen, but I didn't really show much of my full repertoire.

"Nieky has two or three times as many fights in the ring as I have. He is awesome at what he does and I am just this karate guy who has wandered into his realm and started doing all this crazy stuff and challenging everybody. With Valtellini in [temporary] retirement everyone is looking at him like he is the king of the division now and I am just looking forward to dethroning him."

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