Paul Daley would have preferred a bigger-name foe at Bellator 142. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
One thing that Paul Daley doesn’t lack is confidence.
He’s so sure of his striking prowess that he never goes into a fighting thinking he can’t knock out his opponent. The same mindset will carry “Semtex” into his kickboxing battle against Fernando Gonzalez on Friday in one of the featured bouts of Bellator 142 "Dynamite"
Although Daley expects to put Gonzalez to sleep in the ring, the Englishman admitted to being a little disappointed with the matchup. Before the bout was announced, Daley had hopes of being booked against a more elite kickboxer.
“I’m not particularly excited about this fight,” he admitted. “I’ve trained just as hard as I would for anybody, but sometimes it’s good to have that fear factor of an opponent. I would have liked to have been able to fight Nieky Holzken because he’s the [Glory] champion. Against him I would have gone into the fight as the underdog, and I like being the underdog.
“I’ve been a little tired and I would have loved to have needed that little extra mental edge to prepare for someone like Nieky,” he added. “He’s a good guy, he’s a switch hitter and he’s game, he’s well-trained, he can kick, he can punch… It would be a great fight. I am excited to be able to kickbox, though.”
Daley was expecting that Glory, in teaming up with Bellator for the mega event, would have brought some of the promotion’s marquee talent to California. Glory didn’t and Daley was perplexed by the decision.
“Initially I thought it was a good idea [to cross-promote] because it gave me an opportunity to kickbox on a big show,” he said. “It’s great for me, but I thought there would have been more big names to help carry the card on their end of the bargain. I have no idea why Glory hasn’t done that. I am a bit disappointed, though, but at least Bellator has brought in some great names like myself to carry the show. I was hoping it would be a great show where Glory fighters would fight Bellator fighters in MMA and Bellator guys fight Glory guys in kickboxing. But it is what it is… I’m just happy to be making a living fighting for Bellator.”
Daley quickly clarified that he wasn’t trying to take jabs at Glory. Rather, he thinks it would serve the global kickboxing promotion well to have some of its best fighters compete, which would have potentially given Glory a much-needed boost in visibility with fight fans.
“Glory needs to do shows like this a lot more in the future because they are the ones that need this [exposure],” he said. “I’d be happy if Bellator continues to do this because I really think they are the best mixed martial arts promotion. I think over the years, people have kind of forgotten what MMA is really all about and I think with Scott Coker doing this, he’s really bringing MMA back to the glory days.”
Minor gripes aside, Daley knows he still has to take care of business once he climbs through the ropes to get to work. Gonzalez may not be on the same level as Daley in terms of experience and name recognition, but “Semtex” knows a live underdog when he sees one, and he’s not about to take his foe lightly.
“It’s difficult to say what I’ll do against him because I’ve only seen one of his kickboxing bouts and I wasn’t too impressed with it,” he said. “I would have beaten him in the first round if he fought like that against me, but you never really know how these guys are once they’re in the ring. You never know quite what to expect because this is a big chance for him.
“But nine times out of 10 when I hit someone, normally it’s game over,” he continued. “With there being no takedowns in this match, I think it’s a formality that I’m going to knock out Fernando Gonzalez.”
Though Daley is set to tango with Gonzalez, in the back of his mind is Josh Koscheck, his bitter rival from their days in the UFC. Daley said he’s asked of the potential rematch consistently, but he’s not bothered by it. In fact, he loves the attention the proposed fight receives, but he knows it would be ill-advised for Bellator to arrange it too soon.
“It’s just building up to be a big fight and it will be huge,” he stated. “I’ve already begun the recruitment of talent to help prepare me for Koscheck. But we can’t do it right now. He needs to get back to relevancy first. When I win the title, he should get a win or two under his belt because I’ve been performing really well over the last 18 months. I’ve got like 15 wins with 14 stoppages if you include the kickboxing and he’s on a four-fight losing streak. I would like for him to get one, two wins and I would like to take on [Andrey] Koreshkov in the meantime and then fight Koscheck.”