DENVER -- Raymond Daniels had never tasted defeat in a stand-up fight in his entire career, up until his knockout loss to Joseph Valtellini in the opening round of the GLORY 13 welterweight tournament back in December. "Bazooka Joe" neutralized the unorthodox striker with low leg kicks before sealing the deal with a high kick to the head in the third round.
A multi-time winner of Karate and Taekwondo championships, and winner of 21 straight fights at the time of GLORY 12 -- including a 17-0 run for the Los Angeles Stars in the Chuck Norris World Combat League -- had to learn how to cope with a loss.
"You know it was the first time I ever lost in a pro stand-up fight," the No.12-ranked GLORY welterweight told MMAmania.com prior to his pre-fight photo shoot at The Westin Westminster Hotel. "You don't know what you don't know. I wasn't prepared properly for that event to be able to check those leg kicks and stuff like that. I had to definitely broaden my horizons and open up my eyes to learning new things. I got my man Tyler (Wombles) here, who's been really working with me diligently on working my leg checks and my Muay Thai game, so I will be a well-rounded fighter."
Wombles, who was once an assistant under the esteemed Rafael Cordeiro at Kings MMA, heads the Classic Fight Team out of Costa Mesa California and was brought in by Daniels to solidify his defense against low leg kicks that became a huge problem in the loss to Valtellini and something that his GLORY 16 opponent, Francois Ambang, will certainly be looking to exploit.
"Any fighter -- if he is smart and his camp his smart -- would definitely think that would be the blueprint to beat me, the kryptonite," said the soft-spoken fighter. "However, proper planning produces perfect performance. I'm looking forward to going out here and doing my thing and showing everybody that I'm capable of adapting to different situations and different styles."
"I wasn't prepared last time, but I will be prepared this time. He likes to come forward. He's like a pitbull, tries to be really aggressive, but I think my speed, my reach, my timing and my technique will prevail at the end. I'm positive it will."
The Orange County, California native will also be highly motivated.
"It's lit a fire under me that I never knew I had," Daniels said. "It never occurred to me that I could be hungrier than I already was. To actually feel that that and feel that humbling experience of that defeat, makes me want to come back 10 times as strong, not necessarily for anyone else, but for myself and for my goals and what I want to accomplish. So I'm looking forward to fighting Francois Ambang."
Back in his debut at GLORY 11 in Chicago, the six-degree American Kenpo black belt brought the crowd to its feet with an incredible spinning wheel kick that rendered Brian Foster unconscious in the first round. Daniels style can be very frustrating to his opponents. He has a wide array of leg strikes at his disposal and is constantly moving at all times.
"The Real Deal" is a showman and he says that at every event he wants to "put on a performance not only for GLORY, but also for the fans to give them something that they've never seen before, give them a little taste of who I am." He also said he will most likely "create some haters at the same time."
"I definitely try and bring my traditional background from martial arts to the sport, which makes it a little bit different," Daniels continued. "In martial arts, it takes years to hone your craft and hone your skill set. So I try to come in with different attacks and different moves that my opponent would never really be able to practice or prepare for."
"So, it makes me a little bit more exciting to the eye of the crowd and audience because they haven't seen a move like that or a different technique like that. My sport and fighting art has always been being the best at hitting and not being hit. That's what I bring to GLORY. It's like the holidays, it's always better to give than to receive."
Daniels lone major injury of his career was a ruptured achilles that took him a year to recover from. But even at 34 years of age, he's not looking to slow down anytime soon saying, "I haven't taken a lot of damage over the years, so my body still feels really young. I haven't gotten my head banged around. I don't have that slurred speech when I talk or anything like that."
"I don't have a whole lot of aches or anything," said the Shotokan and Taekwondo black belt. "I think I can still go as long as I want to. and that's the great thing about having a great group of people around me. They will let me know, they will say, 'Raymond it's that time.' I trust the people around me to set me up with success."
Besides wanting to rid himself of the taste of defeat, he wants to get back into another welterweight tournament and make a run at the welterweight title that Karapet Karapetyan and Marc de Bonte are fighting for later this evening.
"I love to win," Daniels says. "I love to win a whole lot, but I dislike losing more than I like to win and I'm definitely looking forward to getting back into a tournament, getting back to winning and getting a title wrapped around my waist because I definitely feel it will belong to me and with the skill set that I have, I know I can get it done. With the camp that I've had behind me my confidence level has gone up tenfold."
For full GLORY 16 results and live play-by-play click here.