With 55 professional fights already on his record, #PaulDaley is a man who can legitimately say he’s been there and done it all.
This Friday, Daley headlines Bellator 179 against a man making his Bellator MMA debut, #RoryMacDonald. Despite headlining Bellator’s last fight card in London last July at the 02 Arena, Daley says this time around it’s going to feel a little different. Speaking to Champions.co earlier this week, the former #Strikeforce man explained why.
“For me, this is about returning to the place where I had some of the best fights of my career in Cage Rage,” Daley said. “Fights like the one I had with Ross 'The Boss' Mason—he’s not a big name on the international stage, but this was a big event for the time—there were like 10,000 people there which was huge. I had some great times then and I’m looking forward to going back there. It’s going to familiar. The O2 didn’t feel right, but this is going to feel like being back in Cage Rage and I’m going to channel that and feel like I’m back in my youth.”
Despite arguably fighting in one of the biggest bouts of his career this Friday, Daley admits that retirement isn’t too far away.
“I don’t like to see guys fighting much past 35,” Daley said. “I wouldn’t like to be fighting when I’m 36 and I’m 34 now and I turn 35 next February. Will I be fighting when I’m 36? I hope not. But you never say never. There are big fights out there for me, but my health comes first, and if things go the way that I’ve planned, then I’m happy to step away. I feel like I’ve achieved good things in the sport already, but at the same time, I know I’m not done just yet. I’ve had some great fights and fought some massive names—Nick Diaz, Jake Shields and even the current UFC champion Tyron Woodley. I’ve fought against the best. Not all of them have gone my way, but I’ve always put in good performances.”
With plenty of big fights still out there for him, Daley knows that if the British public had their way, he’d face his fellow Brit, Michael “Venom” Page.
“I know Koscheck got knocked out in his last fight, but if I can drag him out for a big fight then, of course, I’d do it,” Daley said. “I think it’s still a fight that people want to see, but then there’s that young guy, Michael Page. For me, the Koscheck fight is a little dead in the water at the moment. The Page fight is the one, if I had to pick between the two. I feel like he deserves to fight me and I feel like I owe him an ass whooping. I feel like it will be a massive fight for the UK and I hope we get the chance to pull that off before I’m 36.”
While a showdown with Page might be on the cards a little later this year, for the minute, Daley’s full attention will be on MacDonald this weekend and Bellator 179.