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Bellator 179: Rory MacDonald vs Semtex Daley conference call recap - Shock, rude awakenings and respect

Bellator 179 conference call

Bellator 179: “MacDonald vs. Daley” comes to SSE Arena in London, England, on May 19, 2017, featuring the long-awaited Bellator debut of Rory MacDonald — a Top 5-ranked Welterweights in the world — facing hometown favorite Paul “Semtex” Daley. Bellator MMA held a conference call earlier this week to promote the event, getting company President Scott Coker, as well as “Red King” and “Semtex,” on the same line to talk a little smack.

MacDonald has already indicated that he’s not dicking around when it comes to fighting in Bellator, and he’s confident that Daley is going down in London.

“I’ve said in the past that I could win this fight by any means necessary, any finish. I feel like I have the ability to knock out Paul, but if the fight goes to the ground I have the ability to submit him as well because I’m well rounded. I can fight the best of the best in the kickboxing realm and the best on the ground as well. That’s something he has to look out for is my well rounded game.”

For Daley, though, this fight is just a long awaited opportunity to bring things full circle.

“I’ve had some of the best moments of my career at Wembley (SSE) Arena, from being a young 22 year-old fighter in front of 10,000 people at the old Cage Rage promotion. I was British and world champion there and it feels like the timing is right for me to come back and come full circle and back to being on a big show in front of the home crowd. I’m taking it back to my youth and entertaining and knocking Rory out.”

MacDonald warned everyone not to underestimate him based on his last fight with Stephen Thompson.

“I’ve made a lot of changes from the way I was training for (Wonderboy). I made the mistake of overthinking my opponent and adapting my style every single fight and trying to learn new martial arts and new techniques. This past 11 months off has really been about getting back to my strengths and getting back to the basics and sharpening my own skills and my strengths. I’m feeling at my best because of the work I put in.”

Even though the expectations are high for “Red King” in Bellator, MacDonald seems content to take things one fight at a time.

“Honestly, I’m not too worried about being champ. I’m just there to take out whoever’s in front of me. Obviously it would be nice to fight for the title, but I’m not really putting a lot of pressure on that. I just want to go out there and wreck people the way I know I can.”

A recurring theme for “Semtex” on the call was that MacDonald didn’t know what he was in for on May 19.

“Yeah, it’s a massive opportunity, but above the opportunity that’s ahead of me I’m fighting a name in Rory MacDonald, someone who I rank in the top five in the world. He’s a big name, he seems game, and I truly believe he’s in for a big shock. Everything he’s seen in footage, that he’s heard or seen following my long career, is nothing like the actual experience when you get in the cage with me.”

Daley may also have been trying to ruffle MacDonald’s feathers with his next response.

“I’m saying that Rory is top five (but) I hold (Douglas) Lima above Rory. I don’t think there’s a bigger, more athletic, scarier Welterweight out there at the moment. Me and my team, we believe that we can defeat Douglas Lima over five rounds. Not looking past Rory, but yeah we want the shot at Lima. I feel if I’m more composed, I don’t rush out in the first 30 seconds like I did last time, I think over five rounds we’ll beat Lima.”

MacDonald blew off the notion that an extended break between fights would cause cage rust or that his nose was too fragile after being broken in back-to-back bouts.

“The layoff wasn’t a big issue. A fight’s a fight for me. I can fight any place, any time, anywhere against anybody. I took time off sparring and contact martial arts and gave (my nose) the month it needed. I didn’t take the time after Robbie Lawler. It’s been tested 100 percent in the gym. I’m not in this to be a model. I’m a born and bred warrior, that’s my outlook on my life. I’m going in there to smash.”

He also sought to dispel the notion that he was parting ways with TriStar Gym.

“I did part of my training camp in Kelowna, B.C., with David Lea, it’s a place I always went back-and-forth with between Montreal, I just spent more time there this time. Everybody at (TriStar) is getting their work in. It’s great always having a lot of new bodies in there. It’s always fun having a lot of new guys come in.”

Both men were asked to assess their opponent going into this marquee fight in London.

Daley: “Rory is well rounded, and that’s about it. I don’t class him as a dangerous fighter, I don’t fear him in any way, I’ve fought all the big bad scary guys. What makes Rory dangerous is the fact that he’s well rounded, but sometimes it’s also a negative. He’s in for a shock on May 19.”

MacDonald: “I think Paul is one of the best MMA strikers out there with some of the best power. That’s something anybody who goes up against him has to be careful of. He wants to knock you out with every punch he throws. He won’t just tap out and give up.”

Daley believes that people have underestimated just how good of an overall fighter he is.

“He can try to do whatever he feels is necessary to win the fight. The assessment people have of me on the ground kind of works in my favor. I’m overlooked in my strengths on the ground and my record against people are strong on the ground. He will do what he needs to do to survive, and I will do what I need to do to take him out.”

MacDonald knows that he may be underrated at this point, too, after two straight losses.

“You’re only as good as your last performance, and people are easy to write off a fighter if they have a bad loss or a bad outing. It’s just a natural thing for critics to say and think. I never put too much worry into that. I have a lot more to prove in my career and May 19 will be the start of that.”

Coker was asked why they didn’t try to have this fight in Canada.

“We had checked several venues (in Canada) and we’re currently speaking to a couple of venues about doing a big fight there before the end of the year. Like we did in London, we’ll come there with a big big card, big match ups.”

Both fighters closed the call with the confidence that a win would be assured in London.

Daley: “I’ve fought guys who have never been knocked out, and if you look at my record, I’m the guy who knocks them out. May 19, make sure you have your tickets and prepare yourself for an entertaining main event. Rory will see exactly what I’m all about.”

MacDonald: “If he thinks I’m an easy to quit kind of fighter he’s in for a rude awakening. I had a great training my camp, I’m feeling my best, and I’m going to go in there and show he doesn’t even belong with me.”

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