Best yet to come after fighter's rapid takedown

ELEVEN seconds was all it took to convince Michael McDaniel, aged 45, that his best fights were still to come.

The US-born Ipswich resident set a new record for his takedown of Northern New South Welshman Jamahl Kelly at the Mansfield Tavern last weekend.

Now he is turning pro and gives himself 12 months to make his name on the world mixed martial arts (MMA) stage.

"I'm going to give myself six to eight months to learn Muay Thai," he said. "Then I'm going to unleash as much as I can on anybody."

He means it, as Kelly found out the hard way.

"He was significantly shorter than me, about 5'10" (178cm)," the 198cm, 93kg former NBA trialist basketball said. "So I used my jab.

"When he tried to jab I threw a straight right to his temple.

"Then I gave him two hammer fists and he was out."

McDaniel knows he got lucky, admitting "he could have got me before I got him".

But it hasn't dented his belief he is ready to compete against the best in MMA, most of whom are half his age.

His confidence stems from the calibre of opponent he has taken down recently.

"I'm beating guys I shouldn't be," he said.

"Kelly was a black belt in judo.

"He's a five-rings dojo."

Long before he swapped basketball for MMA in his early 40s, McDaniel learnt to fight on the streets of Honolulu.

There he played college basketball, and played on the streets as well.

And if you play basketball on the streets in parts of Honolulu, you better know how to use your fists.

"I played a bit of street-ball, where anything can pop off," he said. "When you're surrounded by pimps and drug dealers.

"You'd be fighting or playing basketball."

With a family and a 25-year-career as a youth worker, his approach to life has changed a lot since then.

Looking after himself has enabled him to remain fighting fit at an age many ex-sportsmen are investing in mobility scooters.

"I just keep myself healthy," McDaniel said of his secret to eternal youth.

"I hardly eat any meat.

"I'm active every day."

He also has a deep love for his religion and family.

It is why he thinks he is ready to take on all comers, for a few years yet. "I can take on the best in the world right now," he said.

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