Daniels made it clear that his intention in joining Karate Combat was to prove that he was undeniably the best Karateka in the world.
In his next fight, he gets his chance, dropping down to his natural weightclass to fight “The Pearl of the Karate World” Rafael Aghayev (AZE). He earned that nickname by becoming a five-time World Champion and eleven-time European Champion in his discipline.
Both of these Karatekas are the best competitors to step on the tatami in their respective organizations.
How will they match up in the Karate Combat Pit?
US KARATE vs WORLD KARATE
(photo courtesy of Raymond Daniels)
Karate developed much differently in the US than in the rest of the world.
American soldiers brought the martial art to their mainland first, before the Japanese could introduce it to the United States themselves. By time Japanese Masters came to teach in America, karate was already growing from homegrown grassroots, complete with its own tournament scene. Elsewhere, the Japanese often had the first touch.
Raymond Daniels is the greatest competitor to develop in this US scene, winning an unparalleled number of World Championships and major tournaments before switching to Kickboxing. This style of fighting greatly influences Daniels.
HUMAN HIGHLIGHT REEL
Note: Raymond Daniel's bottom foot
Raymond Daniels as with many American Stylists fights in a very bladed stance with his hands very low. This has the benefit of protecting the body incredibly well, leaving only the head and legs for targets (to bait your opponent). It also makes lead leg kicks and lead hand strikes very effective to use with little to no telegraph. You will often see Daniels utilize devastating sidekicks with this stance. As well as a darting 1-2 combination that is very hard to read for most opponents.
But the last benefit of this stance is it's very advantageous for spinning attack, which is Raymond's specialty. In striking fundamentals spinning attacks are often categorized as high risk / high reward. However, there are ways Raymond has minimized said risk.
First is his incredible sense of timing for this technique that he developed through sport karate. Pressuring his opponent to react and nailing them once they are positioned. Second is attacking through combinations, allowing him to utilize the technique when his opponent is dazed or defending another attack. Finally, creating opportunity through feinting. For example his famous 720 punch was an elaborate feint that set up the KO in Bellator.
The American Karate stylist doesn’t seize opportunities, he creates them.
THE PANTHER STALKS...
Backed into a corner...
Rafael "The Panther" Aghayev (of Azerbaijan) has a simple, but complex fighting style. Aghayev is a traditional blitz fighter, but also utilizes a lot of slick head movement as well. Since he is often shorter than his opponents, he needed to develop this slick head movement and crispy Tsuki-waza (pugilism) to be able to close the distance. Once he does, he purposely jams himself into his foe to set up his masterful take downs or push his opponents away to land a kick.
On the outside he’s often staying out of range, reading his opponent, and finding his opportunities to land heavy counter strikes, instead of jamming himself. This creates more opportunities at a distance, since his opponent doesn't know which option he will take.
This seamless transition between striking and grappling could be considered Karate’s equivalent to the classic Wrestle-Boxer strategy often found in MMA.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME KARATEKAS MEET
These two competitors are once in a lifetime Karatekas. It has been long speculated who would win if they were ever to come to blows. Now you have chance to see it live, December 17th on the backlot of Universal Studios Florida in Orlando.
You truly do not want to miss this one because it isn't just for Karate Combat Gold. It's for Legacy.