Ex-UFC fighter Bubba McDaniel arrested on deadly conduct charges after alleged road rage

A well-known Wichita Falls, Texas, man was arrested Wednesday on a tougher charge for an alleged road rage incident that occurred in 2020, court documents show.

Robert “Bubba” McDaniel Jr. was free from Wichita County Jail Thursday on a $50,000 bond, according to online jail records.

McDaniel is known for his participation in mixed martial arts and the Ultimate Fighting Championship, as well as for calling for justice for the murder of his 2-year-old son, Jason Wilder McDaniel.

McDaniel was first charged with deadly conduct in connection with an Aug. 15, 2020 incident near a fire station on Johnson Road, according to an affidavit for an arrest warrant. Deadly conduct by discharge of a firearm carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison.

A Wichita County grand jury indicted McDaniel on May 5 for a more serious charge of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with the road rage incident.

It is not uncommon for a grand jury to indict a person on a different charge than he was initially arrested for. Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon carries a stiffer penalty and is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Wise County District Attorney James Stainton of Decatur is the specially appointed prosecutor for McDaniel’s case. McDaniel is accused of firing two shots from a handgun while standing in the road, according to allegations in court documents.

He is suspected of firing a gun after an altercation between himself another driver in the 4900 block of Johnson Road, according to allegations in court records. The rear bumper of the other man’s vehicle was struck by a bullet, and four firefighters witnessed all or part of the incident, according to allegations in court filings.

Police were dispatched about 11:20 a.m. that day to Wichita Falls Fire Department Station No. 6 in the 4900 block of Johnson Road, according to court records. McDaniel was arrested and bailed out of jail Aug. 26, 2020, on a $50,000 bond for the initial deadly conduct charge, according to online records.

After he got out of jail, McDaniel went on Facebook Live to tell his side of the story. He said someone was menacing his family, and he defended them.  McDaniel said on Facebook Live that the other driver looked to be reaching for a gun. He said he has lost his son and was not going to lose another child. Support has been high among community members and others for justice for Wilder.

Law enforcement officials believe Wilder was murdered Oct. 11, 2018, by James Irven Staley III in his Wichita Falls home, according to allegations in court documents. Staley and Wilder’s mother, Amber Nichole McDaniel, were dating during a time when she wasn’t with Bubba, according to court documents.

Officials contend Wilder was smothered with a pillow in Staley’s home in the 2000 block of Irving Place, according to allegations in court records and an autopsy report. Staley has been charged with capital murder of a person younger than 10 and felony first-degree murder in connection with Wilder’s death.

Staley faces up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder and life in prison without parole if convicted of capital murder, according to court documents. A pretrial hearing is set for Jan. 19, 2022, in 89th District Court for the murder case. No trial date has been set.

Staley was later charged with injury to a child with intent to cause bodily injury and tampering/fabricating physical evidence in connection to the Wilder murder case, according to court documents. Staley is suspected of physically abusing Wilder and, after the child’s murder, of staging the death scene, according to allegations in court documents. The charges are punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Amber has been charged with endangering a child by bringing Wilder around Staley and with tampering with cell phone evidence, according to court records. She faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of tampering with evidence and up to two years in a state jail facility if convicted of child endangerment.

McDaniel is a veteran of 40 professional mixed martial arts fights. In 2021, he entered the national spotlight as cast member on “The Ultimate Fighter,” Season 17. McDaniel made his UFC debut at the TUF 17 Finale and defeated Gilbert Smith with a third-round triangle-armbar. Back-to-back losses to Brad Tavares and Sean Strickland led to his UFC exit.

Since his UFC departure, McDaniel competed 11 times, going 9-2, including a 2-1 record in Bellator. McDaniel hasn’t competed in MMA since 2018, though was scheduled to fight in 2020 before a cancellation.

This story originally appeared on Times Record News, a Gannett-owned outlet. MMA Junkie staff contributed MMA-relevant background to this version of the story.

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