Peter Stanonik holds ‘no grudge’ against Raymond Daniels following brutal groin strikes
When Peter Stanonik went down on the canvas to not one, but two brutal groin strikes not many thought he’d ever want to get back in the cage with that opponent again. But here we are, just months later, and he’s gearing up to step in the cage with Raymond Daniels yet again.
FanSided spoke with Stanonik on the eve of his rematch to detail the injury, the rematch negotiations and his feelings about Daniels now.
FanSided: This rematch seems to have come together last minute, was it that way for you too or was this being worked on for a while?
Stanonik: I was asked about three weeks ago if I wanted to run it back with Raymond and I said ‘Yeah.’ It was really just that simple. I had just fought maybe two months ago and I wanted to fight again. I had been staying in contact with Bellator for a while. So he hit me up and I accepted.
Did you know right away after that first fight that a rematch was going to happen? Or did it take some time to come to terms with fighting him again?
I knew from the jump. It’s just the honor to step in with him, and I thought I was doing pretty well. So, yeah, I just knew from the jump. He had called me about six months ago when I left the hospital from that first fight if I wanted to run it back and I said yeah instantly. I thought it would have been sooner, but I mean, things are going on, they got a lot of fighters. So, I get it.
What was the reaction from Daniels after the bout? Did he apologize or say anything?
Bellator was very apologetic. They actually compensated me for the first time that happened. He was extremely apologetic. It’s the fight game and things happen, so no grudge. There’s literally no grudge. There’s no negative juju over here. I knew I wanted to fight them basically again. He’s a legend, I’m a nobody, and I mean let’s be honest, the only way you get a name in any combat sport is by beating somebody. The truth is Raymond can find anyone he wants. He can pick and choose; I know he’s their guy and he’s got more clout than I do. I understand how the game works. So actually I’m just very thankful and grateful that he actually took the rematch.
A lot of fan reaction when they heard you accepted the rematch was, “He’s got some balls” literally. How did you come to terms with stepping back in there with him?
I mean a lot of people don’t want to fight him. A fight is a fight. I want to challenge myself. I want to see how good I really am. I’ll fight anyone. I know it’s cliche but that’s what our job is. You can’t be a brain surgeon and pick and choose who you’re going to do surgery on. It’s a job so I’ve never turned down a single fight. So, it was exciting. I know that we’re going to stand. Again, things can happen in MMA fight but it’s an exciting matchup and I think people want to see the outcome.
How bad were those back-to-back to groin strikes really? Were there long-term effects?
It was actually pretty bad. When I left, Connecticut, I was fine, just my groin hurt. But when I got home, three [or] four days later, I was just getting out of bed, and I was hanging my feet over the bed, and it felt like needles and a pin on the bottom of my left leg. It’s just something wasn’t right, it was painful and uncomfortable. So I had to put my legs back in the bed, and I had a girlfriend then, and I asked her, ‘Did he kick me in my leg, or did I fall during a fight, or something? Because my leg won’t move. I can’t bend it at all. I watched the fight over and nothing happened. He didn’t kick me my leg or anything. So I had to go to the hospital. I couldn’t walk.
Wow, that’s a lot worse than a lot of us knew.
I remember parking on the third-floor level and it took me almost 45 minutes to get into the hospital. I just couldn’t bend my leg. So I went through, I went to the doctors. The doctor said I have a contusion. But the contusion turned into a hematoma in my left leg. And so they did an x-ray, and it was just a big puddle of blood that’s just sitting on my leg. And it’s why I couldn’t move my leg. It was like two weeks before I could really start doing anything. And I’m very active, I train people, I train all the time. So it was a pretty rough time just to recover, but I had no idea what was going on. Because it was days later, I felt great, my groin still hurt a little bit, but it was just my leg. That was kind of scary to me because…I don’t know, I’m not a doctor, I don’t know how this stuff works but yeah let’s face it. The blood, the contusion from my groin, went down to the leg, and I had a hematoma that you can see on the x-ray from my knee to up to my groin, and that was painful.
What was the recovery process?
She said ‘Just stay off of it.’ It’s pretty much an internal bruise. So anything that you do to with it, anything you do with that leg, it’s just going to feel bad. I sat out for about two weeks. I was stretching it, I would massage my leg. But none of that was really happening; it’s just a clot of blood just sitting there. So I just had to wait, let it take its course. But then I thought when I saw the bruising started coming maybe a week and a half after I left hospital, and that’s a good sign. That means the blood is starting to go back to where it’s supposed to be. It really sucked. When I would get out of bed, just leave this hanging my feet over the bed was just…not excruciating, but it was past uncomfortable, to the point where I had to go to the hospital.
The million-dollar question … did you upgrade your cup?
Diamond Cup actually sent me a cup. Yeah, I was using just those $1 mouthpiece from Walmart, use the same cup from Walmart, it’s a baseball cup. The top of the cup was actually cracked here. So now I got a real cup. I got a Diamond Cup. And I know that sounds minuscule but actually makes me feel more comfortable.
That doesn’t sound small at all, that’s an important detail. Have you thought about what would happen if it happened again?
At first, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to take the fight just because I didn’t want that to happen again. But I mean, I don’t think it will happen again. So, I don’t care. Waking up about four or five days after the fight, you’re still emotional, and I was actually really hurt. The physical pain hurt, yeah, but it was the mental thing, I got to fight with the legend and I knew the whole time I was going to do good. But I mean, I was showing the world, the time and effort I put into the sport, And I just felt like when I got hit the second time, I could hear John McCarthy say, ‘That’s it. The fight’s over.’ When I heard him say that, that’s when I hit the ground and I was really emotional. I’ve never got a paycheck to spend. Before him, I had 18 pro fights and the biggest paycheck I ever got was $5,000. So it was really frustrating. I could hear everything going on. And I heard John McCarthy say they’re going to end the fight. And then the doctor called the fight, brought the stretcher out. That was kind of embarrassing, but I get it, they got to take the proper precautions for the fighter.
Do you hold any ill-will towards Daniels?
I know the guy’s a good guy. I don’t think he’s a bad human being. I don’t think he maliciously meant to do it; it’s part of the sport. And it just so happened, as a coincidence, it happened twice in a fight. And to say that someone is that good, like literally that good, they can aim their foot at my groin twice, I don’t know if that’s even humanly possible.
Is there any part of you that thought it might have been on purpose?
I don’t think it was malicious. I mean I could be wrong, but I mean, I don’t think he’s a horrible dude. I don’t think the guy’s a bad guy. He’s married, he has kids, he’s got a gym, he’s got people that look up to him. So I don’t think he tried to do it. When people keep asking you back and forth, ‘Do you think he meant to do it?’ You go back and forth about a week after the fight because I’m still emotional, but I got over it. I don’t think he meant to.
Be honest, is any part of you hoping to get him back, if you know what I mean?
No, no. I’m 32 years old, man. I’m not into the malicious vengeful stuff. We’re here to just fight and feed a family. I don’t ever purposely hit anyone in their groin. That’s extremely dirty. We get into the sport because we want respect, so the only way you get respect is if you give it, and I just could never do anything like that. Absolutely not.
Now that you have the groin strikes to contend with, do you plan on changing up your game plan?
No, I don’t have a game plan. I just go in there, come forward, heavy pressure. All my fights, I do the same thing over, and over, and over again. It’s a fight. There’s no game plan. We can hypothetically speak about things, but it’s still not reality. So just go in and train. Train hard, do what you can do, you can’t control what they do. So I just do what I do and I feel like whatever ‘gameplan’ was working last time, so I don’t plan on doing anything different. I just plan on going harder. He was really hard to read; I’ve never caught anyone like him, nowhere near him, before I saw him. So he was extremely hard to get the range, the length. I’m still a small welterweight. I don’t have a big frame. I’ve fought the majority of my fights MMA at 145. So it took a little time to figure him out but I just plan on fighting.
Stanonik will fight Daniels on the preliminary card of Bellator 257 which takes place on Friday, April 16, 2021, live from the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. Follow along with FanSided for all your live news and highlights.