Bellator 260: Paul Daley aiming to silence his critics with win over Jason Jackson

By Paul BattisonBBC Sport
Bellator 260
Venue: Mohegan Sun Arena, Connecticut, USA Date: Friday, 11 June
Coverage: Watch live coverage on BBC iPlayer from 23:00 BST

Paul 'Semtex' Daley says he does not get the respect his career deserves but will continue to prove critics wrong, before his fight with Jason Jackson at Bellator 260.

England's Daley, 38, will take part in his 63rd professional MMA bout when he takes on Jackson in Friday's co-main event, which will be shown live on BBC iPlayer.

"I've been in the game for 19 years and I'm still winning against these young guys," Daley told BBC Sport.

"I'm not going to ask for it [respect]. It will just reach a stage where it has to be given."

After making his professional debut in 2003, Daley has gone on to record 43 wins with 34 knockouts across multiple MMA promotions.

He thinks there are similarities between his career and former multi-weight boxing world champion Bernard Hopkins, who retired at the age of 51 after 67 professional fights.

"Hopkins didn't get the respect he deserved but then he beat Felix Trinidad when he was 36-years-old - that's when he finally started to get it," said Daley.

"That's what I'm going to do. I'm better than all of these guys, I have been for a long time."

'People thought you were crazy, a criminal or a gangster'

Before turning to MMA full-time at the age of 18, Daley served in the British Army as a reconnaissance driver in the Household Cavalry.

Upon enrolment, Daley hoped he could train in MMA alongside his army duties but soon realised this could not be possible.

"My squadron commander didn't think the sport was going to be up to much so it wasn't something I could pursue there," said Daley.

"Back then it was still seen as cage fighting and being quite brutal, and it wasn't seen as a sport. Now things are different.

"If you join the British Army now there are actual British Army MMA training facilities."

Despite leaving the army to pursue a career in an embryonic sport, Daley never saw the decision as a risk.

"People thought you were kind of a joke, they thought you were crazy, a criminal, or a gangster-type character. Nobody really took you seriously and nobody thought it was a legitimate career choice," said Daley.

"People might say it was a risk quitting the army to do MMA, but I didn't think it was as I knew I was more than capable to go far in the sport."

'No regrets' over UFC exit

Paul Daley and Josh Koscheck
Paul Daley, front, attacked Josh Koscheck following their fight at UFC 113

After making a name for himself in British MMA promotions such as Cage Rage and Cage Warriors, Daley signed for the UFC in 2009.

His time there was short-lived however when three fights into his contact UFC president Dana White announced the promotion had parted company with Daley.

Following the fight with Josh Koscheck at UFC 113, Daley approached his opponent and threw a punch, prompting White to say he would "never fight in the UFC again."

Daley apologised for his actions, but says he has no regrets about what happened.

"Everything happens for a reason," said Daley.

"The UFC is a fast road to fame and riches if you're good enough, I believed I was good enough, so maybe I would have made all my money, had all the big fights and be retired by now.

"It wasn't the best of things to do, but I'm still here in the sport, still enjoying it. I am so fortunate to still be doing what I love and be able to feed my family from doing what I love."

'Nobody has done it like Semtex'

Paul Daley fighting Saad Awad
Paul Daley is undefeated in Bellator since 2019

Daley is on a three-fight win streak and is coming off the back of an impressive victory over Sabah Homasi in April.

He says he is extremely confident going into Friday's catchweight 175lb bout against Jamaica's Jackson.

"I'm faster, stronger, tougher, more resilient, fitter, I have more experience and power all on my side. I've got nothing to worry about, he's not dangerous," said Daley.

If Daley beats Jackson, he sees potential for a rematch with Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima, who defends his title in Friday's other co-main event against Yaroslav Amosov.

Daley faced Lima five years ago with the Brazilian earning a unanimous decision victory.

"He's the best Bellator have, and I want to test myself against the champ," said Daley.

When he retires from the sport, Daley believes he will leave the legacy of being the most entertaining fighter in UK MMA history.

"Michael Bisping was the champion, Brad Pickett had the character, Dan Hardy had the mohawk, but nobody has done it like Semtex," said Daley.

"Nobody for the past 18 years is still here at the highest level of competition, smashing people, knocking people out, putting on fight of the nights. That is it."

BBC coverage

Friday, 11 June

Bellator 260

23:00-04:30 (main card from 02:00) - BBC iPlayer

You can also watch Bellator 261 on Friday, 25 June, live on BBC iPlayer, with more information to be announced in due course.

All times are in BST and are subject to change.


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