Paul Daley respects Rory MacDonald and calls him one of the world’s top welterweights, but he doesn’t exactly consider “The Red King” to be a dangerous opponent.
“Rory is well rounded and that’s about it. I don’t classify him as a dangerous fighter,” Daley said during a recent media call. “I don’t fear him in any way. I’ve fought all the big, bad, tough, scary guys. Rory is nowhere up there with those guys. What makes Rory dangerous is the fact that he’s well rounded. Sometimes that can also be a negative.”
MacDonald signed with Bellator MMA last summer but has remained on the sideline waiting for his nose — which was initially broken against Robbie Lawler at UFC 189 — to heal. The Tristar gym product will make his promotional debut against Daley in the Bellator 179 headliner on Friday night at Wembley Arena in London. The card airs in the United States via tape delay on Spike at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.
MacDonald owns notable wins over the likes of Tyron Woodley, Demian Maia, Tarec Saffiedine, B.J. Penn and Nate Diaz, to name a few. Bellator President Scott Coker has already announced that the Daley-MacDonald winner will get the next welterweight title shot. Reigning champion Douglas Lima will defend his crown against Lorenz Larkin at Bellator’s pay-per-view event in New York on June 24.
Daley, who dropped a three-round verdict to Lima at Bellator 158 last July, would like the opportunity to avenge that defeat.
“I’m saying that Rory is Top 5. I hold Lima above Rory. I don’t think there’s a bigger, more athletic, scarier welterweight out there at the moment [than Lima],” Daley said. “Me and my team, we believe that we can defeat Douglas Lima over 5 rounds. Not looking past Rory, but we want this shot at Lima.”
The loss to Lima is Daley’s only setback in his past seven bouts, which includes five Bellator appearances. “Semtex” is coming off a spectacular flying knee KO of Brennan Ward at Bellator 170 on Jan. 21. That’s par for the course for the British slugger, who has finished 29 of his 39 career triumphs via knockout or technical knockout.
“I actually believe that [MacDonald’s] in for a big shock. I think everything that he’s heard or seen following my career is nothing like the actual experience when you’re in the cage with me,” Daley said. “I truly believe he’s in for a big shock.”
Daley is aware that MacDonald might try to take him down to avoid dealing with his power. However, Daley claims that his ground game is often overlooked because of his standup prowess.
“Rory can try to do whatever he feels is necessary to win the fight. I am confident in fighting everywhere. The assessment people make of me when it comes to the wrestling and the ground game, it kind of works in my favor because I think I’m overlooked as far as my strengths on the ground and my record,” Daley said. “He will do what he has to do to survive, and I will do what I need to do to take him out. I’m not worried about what tactics he will try to employ.”