After establishing himself on the regional circuit for the majority of the first four years of his pro career, heavyweight Daniel James turned his attention towards making waves on the national stage in 2019.
Following a win in his LFA debut year, James returned to the promotion in 2019 as part of the promotion’s four-man heavyweight tournament, and picked up a victory over Patrick Martin via first round TKO in the semi-finals this past May.
“I really took a step back and thought about what’s the next step,” James told MMAWeekly.com. “I realized it was time to make some things happen. 2019 has been a lot of fun for me. I got to fight for the LFA, which was a big thing for me, being on that platform and showcasing my talent.
“In 2019 I’ve got to make some noise in the heavyweight division. A lot of these guys have dropped to 0-1 or 1-1, and I want to just take the time to go undefeated in the (LFA). That’s kind of worked out. I think it’s been a great year with the LFA in 2019.”
When compared to the fighter he was before joining the LFA a year ago, James feels like he’s an all-around better fighter with an emphasis placed on making his opponents worry about him rather than the other way around.
“I see a lot of strong work ethic; a much stronger, wiser, and even skillset,” said James. “I learned to make anybody I fight adjust to my game.
“A lot of things have gotten better. I’ve been able to execute a lot of things that I’ve always had incorporated into my fighting style. I just wanted to showcase my athleticism and all of that.”
This Friday in Lake Prior, Minnesota, James (9-3-1) will look to cap off his LFA run with a title victory when he faces Brett Martin (8-1) in the heavyweight championship main event of LFA 77.
“Me going against Brett Martin is really not a big deal,” James said. “I’m just going to go out there and do what I do: execute my game plan, move forward with strikes, and make him want to try to come in. Everything I throw is meant to hurt somebody.
“I don’t put anything past Brett Martin. He’s had some good fights. He has been proving that he’s not just a short stubby guy; he can fight, so I don’t put anything past him. I’ve just got to go in there and do what I do and if I execute everything the way I want to do I should be heavyweight champion.”
For James the goal has always been to make it to the top level of MMA, and he sees claiming a LFA title as the perfect springboard to get him there.
“My plan right now is to win this title shot and then get called up to the UFC,” said James. “I’m ready for that. The UFC is next for me. The UFC is on my agenda. It’s my time. The time is right for me to go into the UFC and make some noise.”