ONE’s Danial Williams: ‘I could be a hero like Bruce Lee and Jean Claude Van Damme’

Danial Williams is a banger. Coming from Perth, Australia, he looks to become a World Champion in kickboxing at ONE Fight Night 15.

By: Blaine Henry | 2 months ago
ONE’s Danial Williams: ‘I could be a hero like Bruce Lee and Jean Claude Van Damme’

This weekend, Danial Williams steps into the ring at Lumpinee Stadium tonight and looks to challenge the incumbent champion, Jon Di Bella, for the ONE Championship strawweight kickboxing title. Williams looks to shock the world and become a World Champion for ONE Championship.

Danial Williams: A deep love for fighting

Like his opponent, Danial Williams found martial arts at a young age. He looked at the stereotypical names that came so naturally when first seeking out the sport of fighting and even thought to emulate them.

“I got inspired by my first ever Muay Thai show. I went to on a family holiday visiting my mum’s family in the North of Thailand at 6 years old. It was a village festival and I even wore boxing shorts underneath anticipating and dreaming I could be a hero like Bruce Lee and Jean Claude Van Damme and jump in a fight last minute. I definitely wanted to fight after seeing the show.”

Of course Danial Williams didn’t get to fight at six. He trained and at the age of 15, he got his first fight in the most peculiar of ways.

“It was until I was 15 years old I got my first matchup. My first trainer, who was renting a gym at the time, left due to personal reasons. Then the owner of the gym, who rented the gym out while he was battling cancer, reignited the gym I’m at today called Kao Sok. I hadn’t been at the gym in a few months since my trainer left. I was happy playing Aussie rules footy but my best mate at the time continued training and then told me at school were that we were both matched in a few weeks to fight. I was so shocked and nervous but that got me back to the gym to prepare for my first fight. Then I continued the journey ever since, ditching the Aussie rules football hopes and dreams.”

Outside of fighting, “Mini T” is an outdoorsman, as one could expect with an Australian. Being from such a diverse country, he has his mind set on preservation and conservation of the West Australian eco system.

“I like beekeeping, camping and the great outdoors. I manage a few hives and collect the honey with my partner. We camp a lot in the bush and have dreams of continuing our journey to give back to nature and help educate some issues that are of concern in Western Australia, in terms of endangered species and land clearing that affect our eco system here. It will be the biggest fight of them all.”

Joining ONE: Fighting Rodtang and Superlek

Danial Williams is human just like you and me. During the COVID-19 lockdown, Australia had some of the strictest restrictions on the planet. With Williams being a fighter and unable to fight, he took down a dark path that eventually led him to getting out of the depression and into ONE Championship.

“In 2021 when we were mostly in lockdown in Australia, I was drinking a lot. I had this idea to email ONE on their fighter interest page as I thought also being a Thai citizen it would help me get into the country easy (during the pandemic situation) as I thought they had fight shows there still and would need fighters. I was drunk when I wrote it and forgot about the email. Ten days later I got a reply asking to contact them. I thought holy shit and at the time I was walking my dog with my partner and I joked saying ’Wouldn’t it be funny if they offered me Rodtang.’ A couple minutes in into the conversation and it was exactly that.”

Stepping in to fight Rodtang on short notice is no small feat. But Williams is not one to turn down a fight. The opportunity to fight the best and compete in a promotion that offered three sports was enough.

“I had been doing MMA the past 3 years and the fight was in the weight above against the champ on short notice.” Danial Williams continues, “But no way I would turn down an opportunity to fight the best. I lost the fight but it became fight of the year and started my journey in ONE doing all 3 sports at the time; Muay Thai, Kickboxing and MMA.”

Williams is not shy to talk about his struggles with ONE. But he points out that all of his losses have come a weight class above where he likes to fight and his lone MMA loss was to a guy who missed weight.

“It hasn’t been easy being on ONE. Three wins in MMA and three losses across Muay Thai and Kickboxing in the above weight class against the champs, and a loss in MMA in my division against a guy who missed weight. It definitely has made me learn to stay in my weight or at least have more time to go up a division again and adjust the body. Size definitely matters and I pride myself in being the ‘mayor of munchkin town.'”

But the desire to compete in MMA, Muay Thai and kickboxing is something of a personal challenge to “Mini T.” “I believe true martial artists take the road less traveled and accept the harder challenge. That’s helped me to where I am now, anyway, getting a shot at the kickboxing world title in my weight class.”

He continues, “My first martial arts were the likes of karate, taekwondo, kickboxing, hapkido and ninjitsu before stepping into Muay Thai and MMA. I love martial arts. I’ve always wanted to do them all.”

Despite his struggles, Danial Williams remains confident in his abilities. He hopes to become a three sport champion and has now turned to figuring out one fight at a time instead of spreading himself so thin.

“Competing in them though has been super hard. At the highest level it’s proven very difficult. So now moving forward I’ve learnt that focusing on the one discipline, rather than trying to train them all, should help me in the long run for my ultimate goal in being a three sport world champ in ONE. Although I’m taking one fight and focusing on the one discipline at a time as I have a big task ahead and dreams could be crushed.”

Australia reigns supreme

If you’ve missed it, Australia is having a boom in the martial arts world. There’s Alexander Volkanovski and Robert Whittaker in the UFC, Tim Tszyu, Jason Moloney and Jai Opetaia in boxing, and Bec Rawlings in bare knuckle. Australians are taking the world by storm. Williams weighed in on his fellow countrymen.

But Williams points to a couple of his teammates who are also on the rise, namely Jack Della Maddelena and Steve Erceg.

“Maybe it was lockdown during the pandemic created some monsters. My training partner, Jack Della Maddelena, is killing it right now. We used to secretly train at our gym during the pandemic not knowing how the world would end up during those times. Also Steve Erceg whose in the top 15 UFC flyweights, is a great training partner to have when he comes to our gym for MMA.”

He continues on the rising popularity in Australia. The desire to fight is something almost all cultures look for and the Australians are no different. “So we have a few solid fighters here in Australia, especially Western Australia and martial arts is becoming more mainstream so we have a lot people to train with.”

Williams goes on to talk the mindset of a Perth citizen. Having to be self sufficient, he believes his environment breeds good fighters naturally.

“Living in Perth, Western Australia is the most isolated capital city in the world, our lockdown conditions were tough and we have some crazy animals that kill you here with a very harsh sun (most sunniest capital in the world also). I believe these conditions play a part with our mentality.”

Superlek or Rodtang?

With Superlek and Rodtang taking the world by storm a couple weeks ago in their fantastic fight, I had to ask Danial Williams about his bouts with both. He fought Rodtang in his ONE Championship debut and Superlek in his previous fight. I asked Williams which fighter was harder and trickier to fight.

“Superlek,” Williams said emphatically. “He was really hard to get inside with my little legs. We had this idea of circling away from his power side which failed miserably. Rodtang doesn’t mind getting hit, though, which makes him more scary than Superlek. I was more nervous for Rodtang than Superlek, and still would be if we had rematches.”

In the co-main event of ONE Fight Night 15, Danial Williams looks to get his first world title against the tough Jon Di Bella. He says this will be his best performance to date and tells fans that tuning in will grant them the story of a new champion.

“I’m the best version of myself to date, someone who has a lot to prove and it will be like I’m fighting myself in there. I will be taking his best shots if needed, almost like I’m punishing myself for my last two performances, to prove that I am the kickboxing world champ.”

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Blaine Henry
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