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Paul Daley announces retirement fight: ‘I want to be a guy who goes out when I want to go out’

Bellator’s Paul Daley will bring his 19-year MMA career to a close after one final fight in the UK in May.

MMA: Bellator 199-Daley vs Fitch Dave Mandel-USA TODAY Sports

Paul Daley has been competing in MMA for almost two decades and is one of the UK’s pioneers of the sport. But after stepping into the cage a final time in his home country in May, he says that he’s hanging up his gloves for good.

The 38-year-old power puncher was a guest on The MMA Hour earlier today, and made it clear that he put himself in a good enough financial position that retirement was finally an option (via MMA Fighting):

“After many years in the game, the hours on the road, hours in the gym, the years have caught up with me and now every morning I wake up with a bad back, and I’m just tired.

“I’ve put in a lot of time in the sport and I’m in a position to retire, fortunately. So yeah, I’m going to retire. I don’t want to be one of those fighters who’s getting knocked out all the time by the younger guys. I want to be a guy who goes out when I want to go out.”

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“I’ve been planning for [retirement] for a long time,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of fights. Bellator has treated me well while I’ve been there.

“So I put things in place so that when I do call it a day, I can do so comfortably.”

Daley stated that he was going to call it a day after a big win over Sabah Homasi in April 2021, but he owed it to his fans and family to have one more fight in the UK - which was not possible in the past year due to the Covid pandemic.

Daley has fought once since the Homasi fight, where he dropped a decision to Jason Jackson. He said his heart really wasn’t in it for that fight, and he hopes that the pressure of fighting at home and knowing it’s his last bout should be able to motivate him:

“Maybe this is what I need. Maybe I haven’t felt like I’ve had the pressure for a while, since [the Michael Page fight] in the Grand Prix tournament — I haven’t had that kind of pressure, so I’ve not really wanted to train or been motivated to train. But now, this being a final fight, family, friends, students, neighbors, are going to be watching it, so yeah, it’ll be my best.”

Daley (43-18-2, 9-5 Bellator) has competed in pretty much every major promotion around in the last 19 years, but has made Bellator his home since 2015. And while he said that his MMA career was definitely over after the fight with a yet-unnamed opponent, he could be open to still competing in combat sports in some fashion:

“The thing that is on the table is not something that will be another career,” Daley explained. “It will be more of a spectacle than anything.”

Bellator’s UK event will go down on May 13th in the SSE Arena in London and will be headlined by a welterweight title fight between champion Yaroslav Amosov and challenger Michael Page.