Bellator 241: When It’s Time to Wrap Up Fighting Career, Paul Daley Wants a Clean Break

Paul Daley Bellator MMA
Paul Daley Credit: Bellator MMA

Paul Daley returns this weekend at Bellator 241, looking to build on a two-fight win streak he’s compiled with victories over Erick Silva and Saad Awad. This time out, it’s Sabah Homasi in the dangerous striker’s sights.

Daley has emerged from a rough patch with a pair of strong performances to close out 2019. But asked by Cageside Press if he’d changed anything after the infamous MVP fight, his only loss of 2019, Daley said he hadn’t.

“No, I just think that sometimes styles make fights you know, and I have some favorable opponents and I’m happy to admit that,” he said. “The toughest of them being Erik Silva.”

As for opponent Sabah Homasi, Daley doesn’t see this one lasting long. “I don’t see it going more than two rounds and I’ll take him out.”

There was a point during which it seemed like Daley returning to Bellator was on the bubble. Over a year ago now, he had something of a public spat with CEO Scott Coker. But Daley certainly found a good reason to return.

“There was the tournament and a million dollars which was quite an incentive to resign,” he admitted. That, of course, was the welterweight grand prix, eventually won by Douglas Lima. “I knew that was coming up, there was talk of it prior to me re-signing,” he said. “But you know generally I’ve been happy with Bellator, I can’t complain. Yeah I’m happy to resign with them and I’m enjoying my time.”

That said, there are only so many fights left for Semtex. His contract will be up soon enough. “I think this fight plus two more, or maybe two more [inclusive], not many,” he answered when asked about his status. An active competitor since 2003, there’s a question of what’s left for the Brit.

“I’ll probably see the year out, competing. There is one or two goals or opportunities that I may have in the near future,” he teased. Daley expects to compete for the next twelve months for sure, he stated. “Looking beyond that, you know I don’t want to be an old fighter, which I already am at 37. So yeah we are bringing the curtain down, you know my Instagram post I put #oncall because these next few fights it’s the curtain coming down, so we’re going to end it, end with some exciting fights, some big knockouts.”

There’s no time frame for Daley’s swan song just yet, however. “My hearts not set and I always said that I would never make an official, ‘I am retired [statement],’ not because I will never be retired, just because I think its a little bit of an attention grab,” he explained. “And nine times out of ten when you say you’re retired you come back and fight.”

It’s not all that different from the bad relationship you just can’t quit, in the end. “So I’d rather just not have that, I’d rather not have that story line, I’d rather just fight and then when I don’t want to fight no more, you will see my name not appearing on cards, you will see me stop posting about training and you’ll know that I’ve retired as such but there wont be no official announcement, it will just be time.”

Daley did a stint in the commentator’s chair recently — but when he’s done with the sport he expects to really be done with it.

“You know, while I’m still fighting I would like to do [commentary],” Daley said when asked about a return to the desk. “And I don’t wish this to happen, but if ever I’m running out of money or my passion is elsewere and the money isn’t coming through then I’ll do it. But I feel it’s a mistake fighters make, and you see this all the time, but like you say because it’s all we know, they hang around the sport so long.” The end result, said Daley, is that a lot of fighters then feel the itch to come back, “even from the commentary desk, or coaching fighters or something.”

So when it is time to walk away, Daley said, “I want to make a clean break. I have passions away from fighting and so, as far as commentary if I’m still fighting over the next twelve months and opportunities come up then great. Another thing obviously is financial, if I have a big contract, say ESPN, then sure I will go and do that, those are the kind of opportunities that you cannot turn down. But will I be be commentating on local, small shows, doing bits and bobbs here and there? No.” Rather, Daley will likely just fade away from the sport, essentially. “I feel like [commentary] would be too hard for me, I would want to be back in there and compete. So once I’m finished with my unofficial, unannounced retirement, I’ll just disappear somewhere, doing something else.”

Bellator 241 takes place this Friday, March 13 at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT.

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