Scott Coker has seen one of his most reliable knockout artists walk away from mixed martial arts following his 64th pro fight on Friday… maybe.
Paul Daley (44-18-2) said far and wide ahead of Bellator 281 that he was wrapping up his career at the London-based event. And what better way to go out than in a come-from-behind knockout win against Brazilian grappler Wendell Giacomo.
Coker, Bellator’s affable president, has had his ups and downs with Daley over the years. It’s a complex relationship that Coker touched on following the event at the SSE Arena at Wembly in London.
“When I think about Paul, it’s such a special relationship for me. There’s good times, there’s bad times. He’s a fighter, I’m a promoter, we’re sometimes at odds, but I really feel like in the history of martial arts fighting, MMA, he has delivered over and over and over. And I have so much respect for him.”
One memory in particular stands out, and that’s Daley’s classic with Nick Diaz from 2011.
“I went into the locker room after [Bellator 281], and I said ‘it’s been such a pleasure promoting you over all of these years.’ To me, he had one of the greatest fights in the history of MMA. It might be to me, my favorite fight of all time, and that’s him and Nick Diaz, fighting in Strikeforce, my old company.”
But Coker isn’t 100% convinced of Daley’s retirement Friday, even though “Semtex” brought his mother into the cage with him following his win.
“Let’s see what happens here. I was expecting him to leave his gloves in the cage, I didn’t see it,” Coker observed. “My matchmaker, some of our fight team are saying he’s already texting us, trying to negotiate some deals. So we’ll see what happens.”
In his own post-fight scrum, Daley said it would take “ridiculous” money to lure him back to fighting — but he did leave the door open, if just a crack.
Watch the full Bellator 281 post-fight appearance by Scott Coker above.