One of the most widely-shared clips on social media that did the rounds at the tail end of last week was Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley pacing menacingly through London’s Wembley Arena after his loss to Rory Macdonald at Bellator 179. Flanked by his coaches, he marched angrily towards Michael ‘Venom’ Page, who was standing several yards from the cage, also surrounded by his coaches. It was an episode possibly fueled by the frustration of a loss. But Daley is eager to clarify that he was ultimately respectful of his opponent, even though this may have been lost in the shuffle of his post-fight speech.
“Obviously I respect what he did. He is a very talented fighter, which I've said all along. He is a technician,” Daley told WHOA TV.
Semtex is reflective, pausing to collect his thoughts and keen to give an accurate, but honest, account.
“But it is how the fight went, he fought a smart fight. I think a little bit too much attention is being paid to the quote ‘He stood and he traded and he beat him everywhere.’ He took me down and he won the fight on the ground. He didn’t beat me everywhere. Maybe I thought there would be a few more standup exchanges where I’d have a few more opportunities to land shots on him. There wasn't, he played it safe and won the fight.”
Daley’s prognosis of his own shortcomings are candid and to the point. “I didn’t give him a hard fight,” said Daley. “He took the fight where he was heavily favored, where he was more skilled in all honesty. I’m not extremely skilled off my back. It's not a great position to be in, especially off your back, whether you have good Jiu Jitsu or not. Especially when the guy is bigger than yourself with great control like Rory has. Rory is no joke. He was just better at executing his game plan.
“I wasn't making any excuses, as Michael Venom Page has said in the MMA Hour interview,” continued Daley. “An excuse would be ‘I had a hard weight cut’, ‘I was carrying an injury’, or ‘I tripped entering the cage’.”
Daley rushing towards Michael Page had an air of frustration to it to the casual observer. Having just called out Page, Daley’s temper was further stoked by MVP’s presence being brought to his attention.
“In that moment I’m walking out, I’ve lost the fight, someone just said ‘Page is shouting at you’. I just turned around and made my way towards him. It all happened really quickly. Someone just pointed him out. Even at that stage, he said he was calm and he was collected. When I was miles away from him he had people in front of him like he was ready to approach me.
“The way he’s trying to portray it is not how it was. When I saw him he was behind a crowd of people trying to hold him back. Who was playing up to the cameras? I don't know but It could easily have been solved if both parties would have let us go and we could see who was playing games and who wasn't.”
On Monday’s MMA Hour, Page further expressed his disappointment with how Paul Daley’s mother was left to be consoled alone. Daley is clearly not impressed by MVP’s attempt to appear as a ‘White Knight.’
“Michael should leave the whole parental thing out of it. If he wants to go there, we are all aware it could end very badly for him if things got public with his whole situation. I’m not going to bring it there. He cannot be held responsible for what people in his family do so I’m not going to go there with it. Don't mention my mom on an international media podcast. If we really want to do that we can do that. People will hate you a lot more when they find out what stock you're from.”
‘My mom was with my sister, my partner, my niece, my brother and sister in law, she wasn't on her own. My mom is a very independent woman. She chose to speak to Michael. This is just something she did, she doesn't need anybody behind her. I would never have left my mom on her own in a big crowd.
“She felt she had to go over to Michael to talk to him personally. Anyone who knows my mom will tell you she is not one to cower in the corner. She didn't need consoling. If anyone would have needed consoling it would have been Michael Page, because if you think I’m a beast, you haven't met my mom.
“I wasn’t happy she did it, but I wasn't there to stop her and I wouldn't have been able to stop her had I been there. I’m not going to dwell on that too much, but I don't think he should mention people’s parents in any lead up to our potential fight.”
In his spirited interview with Ariel Helwani on the MMA Hour, Page offered Daley advice on the sort of career path he might like to pursue when he is retired from the cage - namely, the ‘Blue Light District’ based in Amsterdam. For those not familiar with this area a quick Google search will enlighten you. Unsurprisingly, Daley was not impressed with Page’s role as an unofficial career adviser.
“Michael Page has obviously wandered down the wrong street in Amsterdam. If you are familiar with Amsterdam and you have friends, you will be told not to wander down those streets. Obviously, Michael took a wrong turn. I’ve been told by friends what's down there, but I’ve never been down there. MVP will break down to you what he experienced and what he saw when he went in those blue doors.”
From what both Bellator’s CEO, Scott Coker, and Page have indicated, they are looking to get the fight made as soon as possible. The timing of the clash is something that Daley is emphatic that he will ultimately have a say in, despite Page’s assertion of being the ’A-side.’
“I hear September, I hear October, I hear December. Although I know when that fight is going to happen, for me right now my mind is nowhere near that fight. I have a few things I need to take care of first personally. Nothing bad, just a few business things, I’m going to take care of those things first, then we’ll see. Michael has said he is the A-side in this and the fight will happen when he wants it to. The fight will happen when I want it to.”
“From the Rory fight he is going to be bolstered in confidence because it wasn’t a great performance,” Daley continued. “I wont say young because he is 30 years old but the immature, inexperienced Page is all boosted by this, and he has his team firing him up saying ‘we need to get him now’. So I can see why he is hurrying to make the fight.
“If I was to fight MVP tomorrow I would knock Michael Page out. He's young in the sport so he’s very naive.”
Both men are crowd favorites, not just for a UK audience but also internationally. Not since the era when Nigel Benn faced off against Chris Eubank have Brits had the opportunity to behold a spectacle where a genuine rivalry exists, and where both men show a complete mastery of building a fight. By Semtex’s reckoning, he’s not so sure on his newly acquired ‘B-side’ status.
“You just have to see the comments that people are making on websites. Only people that are in his corner and the trouser kickboxing community like him. The hardcore MMA fans don't like him for whatever reason. Maybe its because of his clowning or he’s untested. I would be 11-0-0 if I fought all of his opponents. I’m no spring chicken, but I’ve got enough in the tank to teach this guy a lesson. If MVP wants to stand and trade we can put a no takedown clause in the contract. Whoever goes for the first takedown loses 50% of their purse. We’ll see who comes out on top.”