Bellator 148: "Daley vs. Uhrich" takes place this Friday night (Jan. 29, 2016) from Save Mart Center in Fresno, California. The Spike TV-televised main event fight pits two tough Welterweights, Paul Daley and Andy Uhrich, with multi-fight win streaks against each other.
"Semtex" Daley got his nickname thanks to the prodigious punching power he possesses. Indeed, 27 of his 37 mixed martial arts (MMA) wins are by (technical) knockout), as well as 14 out of 24 of his kickboxing fights. In other words, he's dangerous in virtually any form of combat sports.
However, Daley can't afford to take "Stunner" Uhrich lightly. He's coming into the main event of Bellator 148 on a three-fight win streak, and he's a versatile finisher with four knockouts, two submission and five wins by decision.
MMAmania.com recently sat down with the seasoned, but young (32), "Semtex" about headlining the upcoming Bellator 148 card in Fresno and how his preparations are going for the showdown with Uhrich.
"The training camp has gone very well. We're pretty much done. The final week is this week, so it's just kicking over and making sure everything's still firing the way it should be, getting this weight done further, and just beginning to relax just to let the body re-energize itself before the actual fight. With the final cut and the press and all this, even though we're supposed to be easing up before the fight it can be just as hectic as the middle of the training camp."
After more than 50 professional MMA fights and another 20 more in kickboxing, he knows whereof he speaks; although, if Daley was feeling the pressure he didn't show it too much. He even got in a few cracks at the expense of Josh Koscheck, a long-time rival who had to withdraw from the event because of an injury suffered in training.
"I don't really complain, although I've got a lot of stuff as far as injuries are concerned, I just get on with it and don't pull out of fights. There's a certain blonde haired muppet-type character who goes by the name of Krotch-check, letting some fans down, but I just push on. I get in there and I fight - I do my job. If I'm carrying an injury it's my job as a warrior to work around that and adapt as a martial artist should."
Bellator 148 was set to have Koscheck face Matt Secor, Paul Daley face Andy Uhrich, and then quite naturally if both men won they'd be staring down each other for a future rematch. Nonetheless, Daley has not lost interest in a Koscheck rematch after his withdrawal from the Secor bout.
"Hopefully, it will still happen, but y'know Koshcheck's an idiot. I'm sure he has management that would've explained to him the situation with him main eventing and me co-main eventing to build up our fight in the future, so for him to pull out is a little disappointing. It doesn't show me that he REALLY wants this fight to happen. I haven't seen many interviews out there where he's talking about this fight, I haven't seen him (on) his social media angling to build this fight up in any way shape or form."
Daley even intimated that Koscheck might actually be done as a fighter, but is keeping Bellator as a "back up" in case he needs more money or, "should something go wrong in his personal life." Nevertheless, it's not Koscheck coming up this weekend, it's "Stunner" Andy Uhrich.
"Y'know, I've seen the guy fight, he's had 15+ fights. He's a tough southpaw, he knows the ground game, he comes from a strong judo school. He can grapple, he can do everything, he's a tough guy. I only fight the tough guys."
In fact, Daley may take exception to the fact some would say his opponents are not as experienced nor as skilled as him.
"People do (say) 'Oh Daley's just got a can, he's got a no-namer,' but these are extremely tough guys who are champions for other promotions (and) regional promotions. Andre Santos was a champion of Brazil, and that was my return fight for Bellator -- 37 wins, 30 submissions and only eight losses at the time. He was a tough guy."
I count 22 wins by submission on Santos' record thus far, but that's still an impressive amount. And it's easy to see what Daley is driving at. In fact, he gave Fernando Gonzalez credit for being tough in kickboxing at Bellator 142, too.
"Yeah, he came on pretty well. He didn't have to make the weight cut, because he was like ten pounds over or something like that, I let him off with that. I had fought not too long before that and broke my hand against Dennis Olson on his head. The early part of my training preparation for Gonzalez wasn't as it should have been, but I take comfort that I can beat a guy who was WBC Cruiserweight Muay Thai champion, even though I don't think his caliber is very high, and he was undefeated in Bellator. I can take comfort in knowing that I beat him in a stand up fight."
Again, a minor correction: Glory's limit for Welterweights is 77 kg (approximately 170 pounds) so Daley was on target, but Gonzalez was a little more than five pounds over.
The point is Daley took the fight, won it and now he's moving on to Uhrich this Friday night. Uhrich has stated he wants to "stun the world," but "Semtex" Daley says he's heard it all before.
"I think Dennis Olson said exactly the same thing -- it's more or less like word for word about, 'shocking the world' and this and that. I understand being in their position, and everyone's writing you off, and you need the motivation to get you through training camp and you need some kind of belief to hang on to make this all worthwhile. I know he's going to be the best fighter he's ever been, because I'm the most dangerous that he's ever fought, so I know I'm going to get the best version of him. I respect him for that, and I don't want to mock him, but it's just not going to be good enough."
With that said, how close does Daley feel he is to earning a title shot against the champion Andrey Koreshkov if he gets his fourth win in a row in Bellator (and fifth in a row in MMA overall) after Bellator 148?
"Most certainly! I'm happy to be with Bellator, and Scott (Coker) is very visionary -- he knows the fights that fans want, that will get fighters up again and energized. I'm hoping this year those fights are going to start to happen. Whether it's a big name free agent guy they might scoop up like Wanderlei Silva, whether it's for the title, whether Koscheck pulls his finger out of his ass and starts promoting our rematch. But, yeah, after (Uhrich) get through this guy, beat this guy up then I'm pumped to find out what big fights Scott can put in front of me. If that's a title then it's a title."
The bottom line for Daley is that whether it's a main event, a featured attraction or a tough opponent, he just wants to put in work and make hay while the sun's still shining.
"I've been there, I've done it, and I will continue to headline and pursue more cards in the coming months."
Complete audio of our interview is below and complete Bellator MMA coverage can be found right here on fight night.