It's been five years since Paul Daley received his unceremonious release from Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) after punching Josh Koscheck after the bell at UFC 113. And although he received a lifetime ban from the top mixed martial arts (MMA) promotion, he was able continue on with his career in Strikeforce, BAMMA and now his current home in Bellator MMA.
"The average person thought my career was over after I left UFC, so It's good for people to see there is life after the other big show," Daley told MMAmania.com in a recent interview. "Bellator is doing fantastic things."
"Semtex" explained how he handled things after that infamous night in Montreal back in 2010 when he lost his cool after losing a frustrating unanimous decision to Koscheck.
"I dealt with it pretty easily after I apologized," said Daley, who will face Dennis Olson at Bellator 140 this Friday night (July 17, 2015) at Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. "I was very apologetic. I knew I wasn't coming back. Dana [White] already said what he said. I wasn't completely distraught like you might think some people were because my route to that show was a lot like it is for a lot of the guys now. I worked very hard. I was already fighting in America.
"I had already put my time in to have a stake enough to continue my career away from UFC. I wasn't as some of these 6-0 guys who don't really have a fan base that haven't really been around the block to have something to fall back on. So, I was able to continue my career in the UK or somewhere in Europe or Strikeforce as it was. Having a good guy like Scott Coker who put me in some very big and interesting fights."
And once again he finds himself working with Coker, who has completely changed the the vibe and feel of Bellator MMA, creating a big buzz inside the MMA stratosphere. Coker has taken advantage of Daley's kickboxing skills and booked him for the upcoming MMA/kickboxing "Dynamite" card on Sept. 19, 2015, against an opponent yet to be named. GLORY kickboxing will be part of that show and Daley said, "he'd love to fight any of their guys."
The 32-year-old English veteran -- who holds a 20-3 record as a kick boxer -- said the hybrid MMA/kickboxing card is "massive" and that Coker is "doing a wonderful thing" by putting it together. Daley knocked out the No.4-ranked GLORY Welterweight Alexander Stetsurenko on a card in Ireland last year and said, "I know the level I can compete at and I'm looking for another tough match up."
Aside from Bellator 140 and "Dynamite," there is a big fight on Daley's radar and he is certain Coker will make it happen. That would be a rematch with Koscheck, who recently signed on with the promotion.
"The fight is going to happen. There's no doubting it. It's probably one of the biggest fights in Bellator. Bellator is the bomb right now," said Daley. He made mention of the recent Kimbo Slice and Ken Shamrock fight at Bellator 138, but said it won't compare to a rematch with "Kos."
"It wasn't nearly as infamous as the Koscheck fight and what happened after the fight," Daley said. "Everybody wants to see this rematch. Everybody is interested in this rematch. Nobody likes Koscheck, which is clear. As a guy he is just a complete idiot. So, it will happen and it will be a massive fight. And people are like 'Koscheck is washed up,' and I have my haters, 'Paul Daley is a bad sportsman,' and 'Paul Daley sucks,' and all that.
"People are already talking about it. It doesn't matter what they are saying because it already has people's attention. I think the fight is going to happen. It is the biggest fight that Bellator can put on. Maybe Tito Ortiz might be able to pull in bigger numbers, but this is the fight for Bellator."
Koscheck has the uncanny ability to get under a fighter's skin, as evidenced by Daley's post-fight reaction the first time they locked horns. Is it possible that something like that could happen again? "Semtex" says it's a strong possibility.
"Maybe Daley does it again just to get even more infamous and a few more million YouTube hits," he said. "Koscheck knows what's going to happen. That is the interesting thing. Maybe I won't even wait untll after the round. Maybe I'll hit him when he comes to the middle. Maybe it happens 'Jon Jones and Daniel Cormier' style at the press conference. Who knows? Let's just get Olson out of the way and then put that fight together. We will see who gets under who's skin."
Time has not changed Daley's level of loathing for Koscheck.
"He's an idiot," said Daley, now 36-13-2 (2-0 Bellator). "He's just like a very slow-developing child. He's lucky that he has achieved what he has in this sport and made a pretty decent life for himself. I don't think his brain was going to take him anywhere else as it was."
Before that match up can come to fruition, Daley must face Olson at Bellator 140. It's not quite as exciting as Koscheck or any of the top contenders at 170 pounds, but the English knockout artist explained the caveat to fighting a lesser-known opponent.
"All fights are interesting in their own way because everybody fights their best when they fight against me so I have to prepare for the toughest person in my imagination regardless of their name," he explained. "I'm just fighting a guy who is going to be coming at my weaknesses and trying to avoid my strengths. So, it's always an interesting fight for me."
Current Welterweight champion Douglas Lima will defend his belt against Andery Koreshkov in the headliner at Bellator 140 on Friday. Daley definitely has his pulse on his division and watches it closely. While he thinks Lima is a "great fighter," he predicts the main event will end in an upset.
"Everybody talks about Douglas Lima, but, I, myself, think the Russian is going to win," Daley said. "No one has asked me about it. I know he is favored, because he's the champion, but something tells me the Russian is going to win. I don't know. I've looked at him and I've looked at Lima and something tells me the Russian wins. I think he beats him by TKO. I think he drops him and then finishes him off with some ground-and-pound. Maybe one of his spinning techniques."
Daley's first two fights in Bellator were a technical knockout win over Rudy Bears at Bellator 72 and a unanimous decision over Andre Santos at Bellator 134. After Olson at Bellator 140, Daley says his fights will be "all the top guys in the division."
"There are only a few fights for me," he said. "The Dennis Olson fight is probably going to be the last "Dennis Olson" type of fight that I will have. And then there will all be Lima's ... I don't how to say the Russian's name, but The Russian guy Andrey [Koreshkov], The Koscheck's. There will be all the top guys in the division. There will be no more young guys for me. I have to keep my eye on the ball and I have to look at future opponents and see what can be in my future."
Daley hopes to "one day be a champion in Bellator," and said it's been "fun to watch" fellow English fighters like current Light Heavyweight champion Liam McGeary, Linton Vassel and Michael "Venom" Page, who Bellator has promoted heavily. Those three joined Daley on the Bellator 134 card, which was dubbed "British Invasion," and all four were in London prior to the fight for a special press conference promoting the February event.
The London native says "it's great to see Bellator pushing the U.K. stars," and he remains hopeful the promotion will eventually put on a show in his home country, which he thinks would be huge.
"It would be massive. It would be huge. I've fought in arena shows in BAMMA, but I haven't fought in O2 [Arena]. I think Bellator and Koscheck could do an O2 show. Tito Ortiz on the card as well, Kimbo, a Liam McGeary fight as well, and you sell the O2 out and you have a really massive show here in the U.K."