Ahead of his clash with Rory MacDonald in what will be a welterweight title contender eliminator, Bellator 179’s Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley is in mellow form. Perhaps it’s because he’s getting ready for a therapeutic massage following a session intended to keep him ticking over in the run up to fight night, or perhaps we are looking at a kinder gentler, laid back version of the usually verbose ‘Semtex,’ whose verbal sparring seemed absent from the recent pre-fight conference call.
“It’s the same ‘Semtex’,” Daley was keen to assure me. “We try an approach and it doesn’t always work against certain people. Rory is a veteran he’s been in there with the best. My energy has been directed towards having a good training camp.”
Daley was resolute when reflecting on his preparation for what arguably will be one of the biggest fights of his career.
“I’ve done everything I need to and that’s where we are at right now. We get the best results the way I’m treating Rory right now. I’m humble and I’m just ready to put on a show. “
Reflecting on his calmness in the run up to his meeting with MacDonald, who he’ll face at the SSE Arena on Friday, May 19th, Daley reasserted that whilst he respects his opponent, he has seen qualities that he will be keen to exploit in their clash.
“The Robbie Lawler fight is not the first time he’s shown he’s a quitter,” Daley said. “Rory might say ‘oh you tapped out to Jake Shields’ but that’s a different quality I’m referring to. I’ve seen him in the fight with Robbie Lawler and in other fights that I won’t point to but I want him to have a think where he has quit and his posture in fights he’s lost, if that person can get over what Rory has to give and come back, Rory seems to quit. He held his nose in the Lawler fight, granted it was a bad break, but it’s the last round of a championship fight you have to find it from somewhere to continue. That’s even worse than a referee stoppage its like ‘no mas,’ it’s like Roberto Duran, ‘I can’t take anymore.’
“I don’t have to make a statement in this fight. I’m a fight fan and I’m honest with myself, I’m honest when I go in there I assess their abilities and I assess them against people I have been in with before. He beat up little B.J. Penn, He beat up a few other people. I look at Lions like Douglas Lima, Nick Diaz I didn’t fear them and I don’t fear Rory.”
One of the notable features in the run up to the announcement of Daley’s fight with MacDonald being announced was the almost dogged campaigning by Michael ‘Venom’ Page who expressed his disdain for Daley and wished to face him on the London card via a series of memes, videos, and social media posts. Given Page’s withdrawal through injury from the card, one would expect Daley to be relieved he had not accepted ‘Venom’s’ original offer.
“There’s no relief,” Daley offered half-laughing at the question as he continued. “All those years of doing trouser kickboxing has obviously not toughened up his skin enough to deal with the rigors of mixed martial arts training. Even though Derek Anderson is a 155er this would have been quite a nice test for Michael Page. It seems that every time there is a genuine test for Mike, where we see if we can see something else, not someone who can necessarily beat him, but someone who will be able to highlight something or see if he has the right quality to go forward, he seems to get injured. We’ll see what happens maybe he’ll pop up on the New York card which is very likely.”
With the aforementioned PPV card happening at New York’s Madison Square Garden, one of the spiritual homes of boxing, and with all the cool kids in MMA targeting pro boxers, I wanted to find out if this was something Daley, given his KO ratio, would entertain.
“I love boxing and maybe a younger version of me would have liked to box a bit, but Boxing is dangerous,” Daley said. “I’m 34 going on 35 next year and I don’t want to take a lot of head shots. Boxing is a lot of headshots unless you are taking the guy out or you’re light on your feet and can move around. I’m one of the guys, very early on in my career, that did the boxing training. I know in my heart I can’t hang with these tough European level boxers, or these top five UK boxers.”
The lure of Madison Square Garden clearly has captured Daley’s imagination and it would seem that pay-per-view is something he has within his sights in the near future.
“I’d like to get on a pay-per-view card. If I’m honest if this card had not been in the UK I get the feeling that this fight would have been on the MSG card. This is definitely a pay-per-view card. In the recent polls via Twitter, at least 2,000 fans participating said that this card and its main event was better than the Fedor vs. Mitrione card and main event. It’s a big card and it’s a shame its not on pay-per-view but everything happens for a reason.”
Bellator 179 takes place at The SSE Arena, with Paul Daley and Rory MacDonald vying for a welterweight title shot in the night’s main event. A light heavyweight clash between former champion Liam McGeary and Linton Vassell has been promoted to co-main event status. The main card will be broadcast on tape-delay on Spike. For UK viewers, the main card airs on a one-hour delay at 10 PM local time on free-to-air Channel 5.