With retirement on the back burner for the moment, Paul Daley was back in the Bellator cage on Friday.
At Bellator 260, “Semtex” took to the cage to take on #3 ranked Jason Jackson, in a bout that could have title implications at least for Jackson — and perhaps for Daley, if he ever opted to cut all the way to 170lbs. Friday’s fight, however, came at a 175lb catchweight, as had the last couple of Daley’s outings.
The pairing served as the co-main event at Bellator 260, the first fight back with fans for the promotion since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. They let themselves be heard as the bout unfolded.
Immediately following the opening bell, it was Daley with his back to the cage, taking big swings when Jackson moved forward. Both fighters stayed mobile, and Jackson was clearly wary of the power of the British striker. His own left jab, however, connected, no doubt getting Daley’s attention.
As the round crested the midway mark, Daley was throwing a jab to the body repeatedly. Jackson decided to mix things up, taking Daley down with seeming ease. From half-guard, Jackson attacked the body with punches and elbows. Daley defended with a kimura, while Jackson continued to work over the body of his opponent.
Round two saw Daley continue to throw his jab to the body. That set up an attack over the top, and a flying knee attempt that fell short. Jackson, knowing what worked in round one, landed a takedown much earlier this time out, with four solid minutes left in the round. Daley worked to a knee and tried to post up, but Jackson was heavy on the back, landing knees.
When Daley did regain his feet, he was immediately tasked with fighting off another takedown attempt. When Jackson finally completed it, Daley threw up a closed guard, but Jackson moved to side control while his opponent looked for a kimura. After Jackson was warned for blows to the back of the head, Daley used that kimura attempt to scramble, and wound up on top with just under a minute to go. But Jackson reversed, powered up, then planted Daley on his back once more.
Round three saw Daley likely in need of a finish, unless the judges had been overly generous to him in the opening round. A counter-right landed early for Jackson, and a takedown followed shortly after. It was not a welcome sight for the fans, but Jackson had identified a clear path to victory, and he was absolutely going to take it, boo birds or no. Daley had one last surge in the final minute thanks to the ref standing them up, but it was all for naught.
Official Result: Jason Jackson def. Paul Daley by unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)