Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Paul Daley: From the Rough House to the Penthouse

This article was featured in the November 2009 Issue of Fighters Magazine

It’s been quite a week for Paul “Semtex” Daley. His 151 second demolition of highly rated UFC welterweight prospect Martin “Hit man” Kampmann served notice to division of his intentions. More and more UK fighters are making their way into the UFC and, following on from the last season of the Ultimate Fighter, it is clear that the UK is producing better fighters now than ever before. Daley (22-8-2) has a professional career that spans 6 years and has seen him rack up 18 of his victories by either knockout or tko. Despite his great reputation from fighting in a number of organizations he still went into his last fight as a big underdog.

You’d be forgiven for thinking Paul would be star struck by the win but it was just another day at the office for the Nottingham native.

“It sunk in straight away; I expected nothing less than the outcome from the fight, so there was on surprise for me”

Daley looked to push the pace from the opening bell and landed a number of thunderous left hooks which clearly rattled Kampmann. Paul and his team clearly had done their homework on Kampmann as he was able to methodically pick the Dane apart with a series of crisp strikes.

“Kampmann always trades a bit in his fights before going the clinch so I knew I had to capitalise on this weakness. He’s a class striker, but he doesn’t compare KO power like I do”

Daley’s victory certainly throws a spanner in the works for the UFC. Martin Kampmann was due to fight Mike Swick for a shot at George St Pierre but following Swick’s injury and the demise of Affliction MMA, Daley was signed by the UFC and thrown on to a main card bout. Daley himself has already acknowledged that the UFC’s welterweight division is “100% without a doubt” the strongest in the world. Few could argue this point as the UFC has never struggled to find talent at 170lbs, a minefield of a division with George St Pierre at the end of it.

At the press conference after UFC 103 all the talk was of Daley fighting at the next UK event which is UFC 105 in November, potentially against Mike Swick. This would translate into another huge fight for Daley but how does he view the prospect of fighting a top contender like Swick in the UK?

“I would like that fight but I would like more time between fights. I find motivation from the fight itself, not the location, but it would be nice to have a cheering UK crowd behind me. Swick has faster hands and is taller and more unorthodox but I think Kampmann was more dangerous as a fighter than him.”

Daley has been present on the MMA scene now for many years, but is the latest in a long line of UK talent making a name for himself in the biggest show in the world. The UK MMA scene may not be on the same level as other nations such as America and Brazil but as Daley himself said “We’re still a way away, but we’re moving very fast in the right direction.” We have seen a big increase in the number of talented British fighters entering the UFC and Daley’s performance served to once again highlight this. British representation in the UFC is no longer seen as Michael Bisping + special guests.

The likes of Dan Hardy, Ross Pearson, Andre Winner, James Wilks and Paul Daley are all very credible and dangerous fighters in their respective divisions.

The UFC welterweight division, however, has never been stronger and Daley was quick to identify “Fitch, Koscheck ,Alves, Condit and Swick” as top contenders for the George St Pierre’s title. It may be too early to talk about GSP but if Daley could win in similarly impressive fashion against a fighter of Swick’s calibre it would move him several places closer to title contention. Paul, however, is certainly not in awe of St Pierre and views his “KO power, athleticism and takedown defence” as keys to his success.

At this point however talks of title shots and UFC gold are nothing more than speculation. Paul has made a great start to his UFC career and introduced the biggest audience in the world to his skills and the power he possesses at this weight. After spending years fighting in a lot of the smaller shows what does it mean for Daley to finally make such a big impression with the largest organization in the world?

“I’m excited. The UFC is the world’s best organization. I love the fans, it’s awesome.”

While Daley looks forward to his next conquest, like most fighters, he still contemplates past battles. His bout against highly rated welterweight Jake Shields on the last Elite XC offering was easily one of the toughest tests that Shields has faced at this weight. Daley presents a difficult task for any would be opponents but who would he be most interesting in fighting?

“Out of my losses Jake Shields, Jean Silva and Nick Thompson. I’m not sure who I’d fight if I could fight anyone. Nick Diaz is a bad ass, I’d like to fight him”

Daley sits in a very good position with the UFC at the moment. He won the fight that nobody expected him to win and more to the point he did it in emphatic fashion. His victory against such a top contender like Martin Kampmann has also catapulted him straight into the mix at welterweight and ensured that the UFC will have to give him quality opposition in the future. His exciting style has already proven a hit with fans who knew him from his previous fights and he served notice to the UFC and all of its audience of his intentions. Paul himself is philosophical about his victory and knows that the real tests are still to come. So what does the future hold for Paul Daley? His answer was as emphatic and as direct as his last fight. “More wins, More Knockouts and a UFC Championship belt!”

By Ben Cartlidge 2009

No comments: