Rivalries: Paul Daley

By Brian Knapp Jun 2, 2021

Paul Daley has taken his share of unexpected twist and turns during a long and distinguished career, but he appears to have found a home with the Scott Coker-led Bellator MMA organization.

The aptly named “Semtex” will put a three-fight winning streak on the line when he faces the surging Jason Jackson in the Bellator 260 co-feature on June 11 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. One of the sport’s premier knockout artists, Daley has delivered 34 of his 42 professional victories by knockout or technical knockout. He last appeared at Bellator 257, where he brought down Sabah Homasi with punches in the second round of their April 16 pairing.

As Daley prepares for his forthcoming showdown with Jackson, a look at a few of the rivalries upon which his reputation has been built:

Paul Jenkins

Daley met “Hands of Stone” for the third and final time at Cage Rage 21 on April 21, 2007, as he retained his welterweight championship and turned the page on their three-fight series at Wembley Arena in London. There, “Semtex” struck Jenkins into submission 41 seconds into Round 2, a left hook to the liver sealing the deal. After a cautious start, Daley let his lethal hands fly. Jenkins reversed a takedown from the Nottingham, England, native, only to stall out in full guard. Daley rose to his feet, delivered a series of knees from the clinch and floored the Welshman with a burst of punches near the end of the first round. He then made a pass at an armbar, to no avail. Daley stepped on the accelerator at the start of Round 2, lured the World Extreme Cagefighting alum into the clinch, tore into him with knees and delivered a crushing blow to his right side. Jenkins collapsed at the base of the fence, his body stricken by pain, and tapped the mat in capitulation as his counterpart moved in for the kill. The two men had fought twice previously: Daley put away Jenkins with punches under the Cage Warriors Fighting Championship banner in September 2004 before they battled to a draw less than a year later at Cage Rage 11.

Josh Koscheck

Koscheck cruised to a unanimous decision against Daley in the UFC 113 co-headliner on May 8, 2010 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, their encounter marred by a post-fight cheap shot from the disgruntled loser. All three judges scored it 30-27. Koscheck neutralized the Brit’s feared standup skills, scored with takedowns in all three rounds and nearly submitted the Spirit Dojo thoroughbred with a rear-naked choke in the opening period. Daley reversed into top position and unleashed an illegal knee as he backed out. The blow grazed the top of Koscheck’s head and brought the match to a standstill, though the American Kickboxing Academy standout appeared to exaggerate the damage the blow caused. One of the sport’s most decorated amateur wrestlers, Koscheck punctuated the win with a strong third round, where he scored with a takedown and moved into full mount with 2:11 left. He finished in top position, ignoring Daley’s taunts. After the horn sounded, Daley approached Koscheck from behind and blindsided him with a left hook to the face. Referee Dan Miragliotta quickly intervened and prevented the situation from escalating. Daley was released by the Ultimate Fighting Championship after the event and has never again set foot inside the Octagon.

Nick Diaz

It has been called the greatest one-round fight in mixed martial arts history. Diaz retained his welterweight championship, as he stopped “Semtex” with punches in their epic Strikeforce “Diaz vs. Daley” main event on April 9, 2011 at the Valley View Casino Center in San Diego. Buried under the cumulative toll of Diaz’s blows to the head and body, Daley succumbed to the onslaught 4:57 into Round 1. Theirs was a brief but electric encounter. Diaz swarmed with his trademark high-volume attack, and Daley gave as much as he took. He dropped the champion with a ringing left hook with a little more than a minute to go. Emboldened by one of the sport’s best chins, Diaz kept his head moving, recovered on the ground and returned to his feet, where he again went on the offensive. He backed Daley into the cage and unleashed another volley of punches that put the wobbly British bomber on his back. From there, Diaz went for the finish, striking with elbows, punches and hammerfists until referee “Big” John McCarthy intervened.

Michael Page

The then-undefeated London Shootfighters export advanced to the semifinals of the Bellator MMA welterweight grand prix with a unanimous decision over Daley in the five-round Bellator 216 headliner on Feb. 16, 2019 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Page carried 48-47 scores on all three cards. After an uneventful first five minutes, Daley turned to takedowns and enjoyed success with the tactic. He grounded Page in the second, third, fourth and fifth rounds but did not do enough with advantageous positions. Daley appeared to hit a wall once it became clear he could not crack his fellow Brit’s resolve. Page stunned “Semtex” with a flying knee in the fourth round, landed a takedown of his own and applied his ground-and-pound. He then scrambled to Daley’s back in the fifth, threaded one hook and threatened briefly with a rear-naked choke. Page in the waning seconds countered a last-ditch takedown attempt from the former Cage Rage champion, assumed top position and bled the rest of the time off the clock.
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