Ready to ignite: Debuting Bellator 72 welterweight Paul Daley interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

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Pictured: Paul Daley via Bellator

Paul Daley, if anything, is honest.

The 170-pound bomber out of Greart Britain has long been considered one of the heaviest strikers in his division. He had a tremendous debut in the UFC before his contentious release and he worked his way to a title shot in Strikeforce before losing to Nick Diaz in one of the best single-round fights in recent memory.

That being said, after a grueling decision loss to Kazuo Misaki earlier this year, he needed to make some changes.

Daley changed up his training, getting a more personalized routine and moving gyms so he didn't have to spend so much time driving around. On top of that, he asked for and was granted his release from Strikeforce.

His new home? The upstart Bellator Fighting Championships promotion. Daley will be making his Bellator debut this Friday night (July 20, 2012) against scrappy veteran Rudy Bears on the Bellator 72 main card in Tampa, Florida.

The stalwart slugger spoke with MMAmania.com about his goals for his current stint in Bellator, when we can expect to see him in a tournament and what exactly he felt he needed to change to get over the hump in the crowded welterweight division in this exclusive interview.

Check it out:

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You switched up your team a little bit from Rough House to Spirit Dojo and Team Semtex. What the motivation behind that change?

Paul Daley: You know, for a long time I've been a member of Team Rough House and I've always been a member of Team Semtex. I think that's how training for a mixed martial arts fight should be. Just like boxing, you have your trainers, a gym, you bring in sparring partners and you have your coaches which is what I've always had. It's just a way for me to develop as a person as well as develop as a fighter. Pretty much the same people are involved with me at my new gym as were involved from Team Rough House. It's pretty much the same, I just don't go on that long drive anymore.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): You just signed with Bellator. Their next tournament starts in just about two months. That's not enough time to get ready for the next welterweight tournament but I'm assuming you're planning on taking part of the season eight tournament in 2013?

Paul Daley: Yes, that's the plan. Get some good non-tournament bouts in starting this Friday, some KOs and then get people really excited about seeing me in the tournament.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): If you do go in there and win the tournament, Ben Askren is the current champion and he's got that style which has always given you fits. Was it a concern at all when you signed with Bellator that he was at the end of the line?

Paul Daley: Not really because there's some really tough guys I've got to get past first. I can't be looking at Ben Askren when you have guys like Bryan Baker, Karl Amoussou, Marius Zaromskis, Douglas Lima, Ben Saunders and more. There are a lot of tough guys and it would be foolish of me to look past them. When the time comes, I'll be prepared for him but right now I'm only focused on my fight this Friday and all these other talented welterweights I'll be competing against because in order to get to Ben, I'll have to get past all these other guys and they are monsters.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Speaking of those guys, you mentioned a laundry list of the top names in the welterweight division for Bellator. They've got quite a bit of depth at 170 pounds. It's one of their best divisions. How would you rate the welterweight division for Bellator compared to the Strikeforce division you just left where they are starving for contenders.

Paul Daley: Yeah, there's a lot of tough guys here and I've been saying in these interviews that the casual fans of MMA just look at rankings and these guys, I don't know where they're ranked but a couple of these guys could go over to those other promotions and knock them out. There is top 10 talent here in Bellator. I see a lot of problems here and it's motivating me to train even harder. It's going to be an exciting tournament.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): I know one of your goals has been to fight often. Is that one of the key reasons you signed with Bellator because they can just be constantly be giving you a wealth of fights. I'm assuming at least two before the end of the year and then potentially three in three months to start 2013.

Paul Daley: Yeah, I just want to keep busy, keep busy, keep fighting and keep getting better. I feel like you can train as much as you want but the experience you get from fighting is second to none. You can train for 10 rounds but then you go to war and you shit yourself because you don't have the fight experience. Like when you're in combat, you want to go to war with the guys that have been to war the most. That's how I see my career in this sport of MMA. I want to be a badass with 250 fights under his belt and winning the vast majority of them, being known as the guy who comes to fight all the time. I want to always put on an exciting fight.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): At the end of your Strikeforce run, you had a tough bout there against Kazuo Misaki. It seemed like there was some hesitancy on your end. What do you think was going on during that fight?

Paul Daley: I fought I just think I had a bad perception of how it was going compared to how it looked to other people and the judges. That was it. It wasn't really hesitancy more me feeling that I'd done enough. That was just the gameplan, trying to get the win. That was my main strategy. I just didn't pounce because I thought I'd done enough.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Let's talk about your upcoming fight against Rudy Bears. He's fought all over the place and he's a real scrappy opponent. What are you expecting against him?

Paul Daley: I'm expecting a good fight. Rudy Bears is a tough guy with a lot of experience. He's fought some tough guys and he's a southpaw with pretty good jiu-jitsu. He's not going to be the toughest guy I've dealt with but he's a tough guy. I think the biggest thing going against him is my experience. I have a wealth of experience.

I just can't get cocky because I faced a guy who had 45 fights named Dave Strasser early in my career and I beat him. I think the fact that I've fought more tough guys over the years will be my biggest strength.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): Not to be disrespectful towards Rudy, but I'd say one of his biggest weaknesses is he's not as capable of taking a bit shot anymore these days. Do you think there's pretty good potential for a classic Paul Daley knockout?

Paul Daley: Yeah, I've seen him go down in a few fights from punches but I don't like to think too much about that. I just want to go out there and fight. I think he thinks I'm overlooking him and that I don't have a ground game, no jiu-jitsu. I'm thinking maybe he's gonna want to take it to the ground. If that's gonna be his intentions, I'll be ready for it. I want to go there and bash him out but I'm expecting that if the first one lands at 30 percent, a lot of times, that's worse than the one he sees coming. I think this could be a drawn out fight, maybe the second or third, but I certainly didn't train to go in there and finish him quickly. I'll be better for it.

Brian Hemminger (MMAmania.com): What's your goal? Is it to be champion or do you just want to have some great fights? What would you like to accomplish in Bellator?

Paul Daley: I want to win all of my fights while I'm here. I want to be champion. That's my main goal. I want to win this Friday but really it's been my passion since I started in MMA was to win a tournament since Pride days. With the silver confetti raining down, banners, the big checks. The UFC initially was like that, but Pride is where the passion came from with Wanderlei and all those Grand Prix's. It was such a big deal and that's what I want to do and that's what MMA should be like. I love the fact that there's no politics and the guy who just keeps winning will get the shot and he'll be the most popular guy, proving he's

Paul would like you to check out his website semtex.tv, Team Semtex, his coaches, Hooligans United, the guys at the Spirit Dojo training facility and his fans.

So what do you think, Maniacs?

Will Daley be revitalized now that he's fighting for a new promotion? Or will he have too much trouble running the tough gauntlet that is Bellator's welterweight division?

Sound off!

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