MMA retirements being what they are, the assembled media at the SSE Arena in London, England on Friday can be forgiven for doubting that Paul Daley is truly done fighting.
Daley (44-18-2) says he is. He certainly acted like it all fight week, talking about the emotions he’d no doubt feel on his final walk to the cage. But after knocking Wendell Giacomo out in a come-from-behind win on the Bellator 281 main card, Daley appears to have left the door open just a crack.
For one, he didn’t lay down his gloves in the cage. For another, well, he pretty much confirmed that the right deal could lure him back to fighting.
“It’s easy because I’ve been preparing for it,” Daley told members of the press following the fight, the 64th and potentially final of a career that began back in 2003, when asked about what it would be like to walk away from the sport. “If there was something interesting on the horizon, then maybe there’d be something that we could talk about. But there’s nothing there for me. I’ve just knocked out this guy, I’ve done it countless times before. Yeah man, just going to kick back on a beach somewhere and sip Mai Tais.”
So what, exactly, could there be that would get Daley talking about fighting again? He addressed that later in his media scrum.
“If it’s the belt, for seven figures, then obviously I would do that. And that’s something, I thought they might throw a swerve ball in, but like I say it has to be ridiculous money at a ridiculous venue. I don’t know how long the real champ’s going to be out for, but like I say the money has to be ridiculous. And the build-up has to be done properly, and not done in New York when we’re both from London, or England.”
While it was originally Michael “Venom” Page that was suggested to Daley, Logan Storley was the man who walked away with the interim welterweight title on Friday night. But regardless as to whether Daley fights again or not, he’s had an impressive career, and goes out — for now — on a high.
The fans have been right there with him throughout, something “Semtex” acknowledged as well. “I’ve been at the very high of the sport, and I’ve been all the way to the bottom. And the fans have never left me.”
Watch Paul Daley’s full Bellator 281 post-fight media appearance above.