After making his mark on the global stage with his performances in Glory, Raymond Daniels is now a part of the recently-formed Bellator kickboxing organization. Make no mistake, this was a major acquisition on their part, as the fighter often known as "The Real Deal" is exciting and looks to make major waves in his new setting.
His opponent this weekend will be Stefano Bruno, an Italian competitor that also fought a bout in Glory, which he won. Bruno's record as a professional stands at 23-2-1, but Daniels is determined to not let this challenge get in the way of his aspirations. He was kind enough to grant us some of his time to talk about where is stands now and what he's working toward.
Victor Rodriguez: First off, I wanted to ask - you've very quickly become a fan favorite with your style and with your personality. You're sort of bringing back some of the Taekwondo elements that some people probably underestimated in modern combat sports. I just want to know what advantages you feel that brings to your game?
Raymond Daniels: Yeah, I agree with you 100%, sometimes the style is overlooked. I think at the end of the day, a lot of the times it gives me the advantage, because when you're in training or are in your training camp, you are basically prepared to combat a specific person or a specific fighter. That being said, the different elements that I bring, the dynamic kicking ability, it's very difficult for someone to mimic in camp. So therefore, my opponent never gets the opportunity to actually fight against me until he's right across the ring from me. That will play to my advantage because I'm already comfortable in controlling my space, distance and technique. While I'm used to fighting a fighter with they're style, they're trying to figure out my style mid-fight. I think it plays to my advantage which leads to some of my early knockouts.
VR: And you've been doing some training up at Tristar and it seems like you're having, more than anything... you seem like you're having a lot of fun from what I can tell. Is this camp any different? Are they always like this for you?
RD: You know what? I always have a blast during my training camps and doing any training. For me, my actual fight week is actually a vacation from all of my hard training. But I enjoy the fighting aspect because it's a way to go out to display my martial arts skills. It's something that I've been working for my whole - working on my craft - my entire life, to the world. I'm very fortunate, blessed in that regard. To be able to do what I love and to love what I do. So to me, training camp is just lovely, because I get an opportunity, and in this particular one I've gotten that chance to work at Tristar, you know, competing with all my with all my game, continuing to improve. I got a chance to work with GSP, got a chance to work with Rory MacDonald, got a chance to work with Firas (Zahabi), and the rest of the fighters that they have. So I was having a blast. To be able to go out and actually have such talented fighters that you can spar with on a consistent basis, it made that much more enjoyable for me, because I was able to go out and think "wow, I'm on the level with all these guys", and I was having a blast just being at there and at the same time picking up from the information, that was a great experience to continue to learn and to continue to grow.
VR: As far as your opponent, do you study up on your opponents ahead of time? Or do you just pretty much work on your own skillsets?
RD: I definitely study all of my opponents. I look at what their best tools are, what their big preferences are and then I have a plethora of things that I can do from staying at a distance, seeing the pressure they like, the pressure they don't like. So my training camp is always based on doing certain things that will help me be successful in the fight, but my goal when I go into a fight has been to impose my will, so to speak, and do the things that I'm capable of doing and go out and basically - as I was saying, impose my will and not allow my opponent to use whatever he was planning on doing. You know, I look forward to go out there and have a good time.
VR: Now, I just gotta ask you one last thing, because this is a bit of a fun one: Big John McCarthy recently was asked since he was a member of the LAPD for about 30 years if he ever missed working in law enforcement. He says ""I miss the clowns, but I don't miss the circus." Now, I understand that you have a background in law enforcement, do you have a similar sentiment regarding that? Do you miss some of the wild days or not?
RD: (Laughs) No, I can definitely understand where he's coming from, and that statement that he made. No, I don't really miss it at all. I have great friends that are still my friends, that they stayed in law enforcement. It's something that I enjoyed, I had a good time doing it and be able to go home. I became a cop when I was 21, so it was something that I had a great time doing and it was a life experience, but my true calling in life was to compete and fight. My main thing was to give back to my sport, to martial arts and have my martial arts school, World Champion Karate in the city of Orange, and I enjoy that. At the same time, more than I had done in the police department is to have the opportunity to give back to my community, to the youth and to make sure that no one ever ends up - at least my students - that none of them end up in the back seat of that police car in the first place. So it allowed me to make a bigger difference.
Raymond Daniels faces Stefano Bruno on the kickboxing portion of the Bellator: Dynamite 2 event Friday night, live on Spike TV.