Former (and currently exiled) Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) welterweight Paul Daley feels that it's now or never for his championship aspirations.
"Semtex," who most recently missed out on usurping the 170-pound crown from Strikeforce Welterweight Champion Nick Diaz in perhaps the most thrilling, back-and-forth first round in modern mixed martial arts (MMA) history back in April, is likely one fight away from getting a second bite at the apple.
He is booked to battle undefeated, up-and-coming wrestling sensation Tyron Woodley on the Strikeforce: "Fedor vs. Henderson" main card, which will will air live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET from the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates, Illinois. The winner of the "pivotal" divisional match up will likely earn the opportunity to challenge for the vacant welterweight belt -- Diaz bolted for the Octagon to challenge reigning champion Georges St. Pierre in October.
For Daley, who received a lifetime ban from UFC President Dana White for sucker-punching Josh Koscheck after their fight ended in 2010, he feels that this may be his final chance to compete for a major world title.
And if he is unsuccessful, the British slugger admits (via USA Today) that he'd be "devastated:"
"I don't think I'd be welcome back in the UFC. Even if I am welcome back in the UFC, the chances of Dana putting me in a position where I could fight for a title is very slim. If I do get back to the UFC, it's purely because I'm an entertaining fighter and have fans that want to see me knock people out. I doubt Dana would ever steer my career toward a title shot if I was able to go back over there. But like I say, the next shot for me in Strikeforce is going to be the shot, the final shot. It'll be the one that I take most seriously, and I would be most devastated if I lose, because you're very fortunate to get one title shot on these big shows, let alone two. Fingers crossed anyway that that's what happens."
Daley reveals that he's put together a complete 12-week training camp and is prepared for anything that "T-Wood" plans to bring on fight night. Since his frustrating loss to Koscheck, a decorated amateur wrestler, Daley has trained his takedown defense with Kenny Johnson, an Olympic-level wrestler who Daley describes as "one of the best coaches out there."
Perhaps more important, Woodley doesn't have anything Daley hasn't seen before:
"I don't think Tyron Woodley's as good a wrestler as Josh Koscheck. He's not as big as Josh Koscheck. He is as athletic, but on the technical side, I don't think he can compete with Josh Koscheck. People are comparing this to that. People do forget in the Koscheck fight, there are takedowns that I stopped. I think that Josh Koscheck is a higher level than Tyron Woodley, so even if I'm able to stop two of his takedowns or stuff them or stall two of his takedowns back then, I think Tyron Woodley's going to have a very difficult time taking me down when I'm on form, when I'm 100 percent."
On the contrary, Daley warns that Woodley is in for a "big shock" when the pair touch gloves just outside the "Windy City" less than three weeks from today. In fact, the 29-year-old is just too green at the moment, boasting very few advantages heading into the showdown ... if any.
"[He is] not a Jake Shields; he's not a Josh Koscheck; he's not the best of the best, at the moment. [He lacks] experience. The fact that he has no knockout power. The fact that he has never fought anybody like me. And the fact that despite he sees footage of me, he doesn't know really what's coming. He doesn't know what angles I'm going to present to him. How hard I really hit… What's going to happen when his wrestling doesn't work? What's he going to do? He has to strike with me. He has to."
If that's truly is the case, then Mr. Daley may indeed get the second chance at championship glory for which he is yearning. But against who?