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Raymond Daniels on training with Rory MacDonald: 'People are going to be pleasantly surprised'

The high-flying Bellator Kickboxing star helped prepare Rory MacDonald for his upcoming bout against Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson at UFC Fight Night 89.

Esther Lin/MMAFighting

Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson's (12-1) style is one that is incredibly hard to emulate, which is precisely why the No.1-ranked Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight, Rory MacDonald (18-3) brought in Raymond Daniels to help him prepare for his upcoming fight at UFC Fight Night 89 on Saturday (June 18, 2016).

Daniels, 35, was a standout welterweight in GLORY kickboxing and recently signed on with Bellator Kickboxing, where he made his debut on the new promotion's inaugural show in Torino, Italy, scoring a knockout victory in 30 seconds after dropping Francesco Morrica with a spinning-back kick to the liver.

"It's been awesome to work with Rory," Daniels  told MMAMania recently. "For one, he's a world-class athlete and his fighting IQ is ridiculous and so is his ability to just absorb information--not just have information, but be able to interpret it. He's able to apply the knowledge he's just learned so quickly."

Daniels, like Thompson, comes from a traditional martial arts background and is known for his unpredictable and unorthodox attacks, spinning kicks and fast foot work. Daniels and Thompson actually squared off in the now-defunct World Combat League back in 2007, but the fight ended prematurely due to Thompson injuring his knee. The bout was first ruled a technical knockout win for Daniels, but was later ruled a no contest.

"I was really looking forward to that fight because you don't really see that many fights with the caliber of what Thompson has and I have in that similar fighting style," Daniels recalled.  "I was really looking forward to because he's a great martial artist and I don't think he's ever faced anybody that fights his style better than he does. I was really looking forward to having a chance to go out there and compete against him. Unfortunately that happened, but he's had great success with his career in the UFC and I've obviously done my thing with GLORY and now with Bellator. It's cool to show somebody the camp that I actually trained to prepare for him and I'm looking forward to Rory doing his thing this weekend.

Thompson, 33, has been on an incredible run as of late, winning six straight bouts to improve his UFC record to 6-1. He absolutely throttled former UFC welterweight champion, Jonny Hendricks in his last bout, winning by TKO in the opening round at UFC Fight Night 82 this past February.

"Real Deal" is confident he's shown MacDonald all he needs to know to get the Canadian native fully prepared for Thompson's offensive attacks and unique style.

"I know everyone has had trouble figuring out the puzzle, which is Stephen Thompson," said Daniels, who faces Stefano Bruno at Bellator 157: 'Dynamite 2' on June 24, 2016. "Rory has seen it now in this camp. He has seen that style; He's seen that speed; He's seen all the different tools that will be coming at him. I think people are going to be pleasantly surprised. It's kind of the new Rory, the upgraded version or whatever you want to call it. He's one of the most devastating fighters in his division and if you look at his resume he's pretty much beat everybody in the division. When he fights Robbie Lawler next time for the championship I'm sure he will actually dominate him in the next fight."

MacDonald, 26, will likely be in line for another shot at the title should he defeat Thompson on Saturday night in Ottawa, Canada at the TD Place Arena, but he'd have to wait for the winner of Robbie Lawler vs. Tyron Woodley bout taking place at UFC 201 on July 30, 2016. MacDonald's bloody battle against Lawler last July at UFC 189 was an instant classic, which he lost in the fifth round after succumbing to strikes.

Daniels will be in MacDonald's corner on Saturday night, but he finds himself in a bit of a unique situation. Seeing as he is a traditional martial arts guy, under normal circumstances he'd be rooting for Thompson. But his loyalty lies with "The Red King," and the Tri-Star Gym in Montreal, where he's developed a great working relationship.

"Definitely, had it not been for my relationship with Rory, GSP and Firas at Tri-Star, my goal would be to see Stephen Thompson be successful because he does represent martial arts and he does go out there and he does a good job with his style. He's had great success with it. It was definitely an interesting time for me, especially during this training camp--training myself and also working with someone and showing them a style on how to beat my style. It was definitely an outlook kind of like, ‘hmmm, if I were to beat me up ...' It was definitely interesting."

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