Paul Daley is focused on his fight at Bellator 140. | Dave Mandel/Sherdog.com
Englishman Paul Daley has been around the block for a long time, and he’s taken down many of the best in MMA.
“Semtex” has competed all over the world for as many different organizations as one can imagine, yet the one thing he is known mostly for isn’t one of the spectacular knockouts he’s amassed over the years. Instead, it’s when he was ousted from the UFC after sucker-punching rival Josh Koscheck after the final bell sounded to end their UFC 113 battle more than five years ago.
Daley has grown as a person and as a fighter in the years since, but questions remain as to why he cracked “Kos” after their fight. With UFC president Dana White claiming since that night that Daley would never fight for the MMA giant again, he bounced around the sport between promotions before finding a home in Bellator. When the news of Koscheck signing with Bellator broke several weeks ago, it seemed inevitable that the two nemeses would lock horns again. It’s just a matter of time.
“Obviously, it is the big fight with us now being in the same organization,” Daley told Sherdog.com in a recent interview. “It’s a fight that will definitely happen and it’s a fight I’m extremely interested in. If we can all get our heads together, it’s something that can be marketed brilliantly and it can be extremely lucrative for all parties involved.
“But right now my main focus is solely on Dennis Olson.,” he cautioned. “Anything else is just an attempt to distract me from what I need to be doing, and that’s to be Dennis Olson up.”
Olson, considered to be mere canon fodder for “Semtex” when they meet Friday night in one of the featured bouts of Bellator 140, is the man who stands in the way of the ballyhooed rematch between Daley and Koscheck. Daley has been here before and is too experienced to look past Olson, who is savvy on the ground. Daley knows he can ill afford to brush Olson off and claims he is treating his fight with the New Hampshire native like he would a world title scrap.
“I’m approaching it with caution, as he’s a very dangerous guy because this is a massive opportunity for him,” he stated. “He’s gotten a few opportunities like this in the past that he fell short in, against guys like John Howard, and this is another chance for him. I know he’s pumped. He needs to grab this opportunity so I’m prepared for a very dangerous guy.”
Olson doesn’t have a gaudy record and he only has one knockout to his credit. Considering that “Semtex” is a lethal striker on the feet, it’s logical to assume that Olson will look to drag Daley down to the mat any chance he gets. Daley said he trains in jiu-jitsu constantly and has gotten much better over the years. He feels comfortable on the ground but if given the chance to land a submission, the Brit laughed it off, admitting that he would pass on the sub and opt to inflict more damage.
“We’re different in our nature; his instinct is to look for the submission where my instinct is to punch his head in,” he said. “I’ve been training in jiu-jitsu forever but with that said, if a submission opportunity arises, nine times out of 10 I will abandon that and punch him in the head, and vice-versa for him. But my instincts are to punch him in the head. If there’s like 10 seconds left in the round and I [need] to do something crazy, then we’ll give it a go, but I’m going in there to knock him out. It’s simple.”
Daley is on the arguably the hottest streak of his career, having won three straight and seven of eight overall. He attributes his recent run of success to altering his approach to training and surrounding himself with a team that shares identical goals as him. His diet is better and he has been training much smarter than ever before. That, he said, will translate to shattered dreams inside the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I know this is a huge opportunity for him and he’s all pumped up, but it’s going to be such a shock to him when he realizes that I’m not John Howard,” he declared. “Just because John Howard was in the UFC, he was nowhere on the same level as me. And just because I was pinned down by Josh Koscheck, with his wrestling background it doesn’t mean that Olson is going to come in there and do the same to me. I’m taking him very seriously and I respect him - he’s a family man -- but he’s going to be extremely disappointed when this fight is over extremely quickly.”
And by quickly, Daley promises to end it as early as possible, before Olson can even figure out what has happened. Daley claims that his foe won’t know what to do once he gets his hands on him.
“I’m expecting a finish early, yeah,” he said. “He’s going to be surprised because everything that’s watched (of me) and thought was real, was not real. It’ll be over as soon as he realizes that.”