On May 19th Bellator MMA makes its return to London Wembley Arena. The main event will pit British MMA legend Paul “Semtex” Daley against Rory “The Red King” MacDonald. A huge Welterweight affair with definite implications for a title shot after. The bout is particularly intriguing as it will be MacDonald’s first appearance post UFC, where he was ranked number two in the organisation. A massive coup for Bellator it might be, but Paul Daley wants to spoil the coming out party of MacDonald. I recently sat down with him to discuss the upcoming fight and his thoughts on why Bellator is better than the UFC. A little MVP is thrown in for measure.
Paul Daley is a knockout artist, he has 41 to his name in both MMA and Kickboxing competition. Rory MacDonald, in contrast, is a well-rounded, versatile and gritty fighter. I wanted to know Daley’s feeling on how the fight will go. “It’s going to be a hard fight, If I land a clean shot on him he’s going to be knocked out, its as simple as that…That’s just the truth”. Is Daley not concerned about Rory potentially using his strong wrestling and nullifying his stand up? “Maybe he’ll try and do that, maybe he won’t…Ive done it all, faced every type of opponent…so it doesn’t matter to me.”
“There is one fight I would definitely take if it came up as it would be a big money fight, and that would be the Nick Diaz rematch. It was a great fight before.”
“Semtex” comes across extremely confident and is looking to put together all of his years of experience into this huge fight and come up victorious even though he has an underdog tag on himself. I asked Paul how he felt being the underdog “I’ve got such a laid back attitude I don’t care if I’m the favorite or the underdog…I believe in my ability and I believe I can knock anybody out and so we’ll see what happens on the night.”
So if he were to win this fight, what’s next? “Definitely the rematch with Lima” Daley states. Douglas Lima is the current Bellator 170 champ. I mention to Paul that Michael “Venom” Page wants him after that fight. Does he want that fight? “Nah, MVP isn’t even in my next 4 fights in all honesty…For me he’s got a lot more to prove yet, he’s been fighting old men and people that nobody has ever heard of…put him in there with someone with a bit of experience who are still able to get in and out of the bath without help.” Daley doesn’t hold a high opinion of MVP then…“I don’t need to say too much. I mean he has his little fans who think he’s the greatest, but most of the comments are saying how overrated he is…People are urging me just to bang him out now…If I can squeeze him in between big marquees or champions or former champions that I want to fight, then I’ll put him in there, but otherwise, it’s not a fight that will happen.”
“In the next 18 months I want to be hanging my gloves up, concentrating full time on my gym, running that as a business.”
So why does Daley believe people should be watching Bellator over UFC? “Everything you know. The freedoms you have, everyone is an individual, you look at the UFC, guys walking in and they’ve got all the same Reebok shit on and nobody has their own character…At Bellator everyone is their own person, Tito still came out in his flame shorts…we’ve got all our sponsors, come out to fireworks…It’s just massively more entertaining, even from the fans viewpoint, there’s more fun matchups, they match well, they match to entertain. They make the fights the fans want to see rather than make fights that advance the guy that gets the most viewing figures”.
Would Daley ever entertain a return to UFC? “Not unless it happens in the next 18 months because in the next 18 months I want to be hanging my gloves up, concentrating full time on my gym, running that as a business and maybe putting out a few fighters”. Hang on…Retirement? “I want to retire when I’m 35…by that time I would have been doing this 15 years non-stop and so it would be about time to chill out for a while”.
35 is still a relatively young age to retire in the MMA game, are there any fights that Paul would consider changing his mind for? “Well, there is one fight I would definitely take if it came up as it would be a big money fight, and that would be the Nick Diaz rematch…I would get in shape for that fight. Why not?…It was a great fight before…you won’t see me fight against Joe Blogg who wants to make a name off Semtex…I’ll just be chilling with my feet up somewhere”.