It has been announced that Paul “Semtex” Daley will be making his return to the BAMMA cage to headline BAMMA 16 on September 13th in Manchester. Currently Daley is scheduled to fight the dreaded and dangerous TBC so I thought I would take the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of BAMMA match maker Jude Samuels and explore some possible opponents for Daley. So here is my breakdown of five possible opponents for Daley to headline BAMMA 16;
Eddy “Fast” Ellis – Ellis has been inactive since winning the BAMMA Welterweight title back at BAMA 13 in September but seems like an ideal choice for Daley’s next opponent. Well certainly if the plan is for Daley to hang around with the organisation. Ellis is currently riding a seven fight unbeaten streak and the scrappy Washington native would prove a tough opponent for Daley. Although interestingly out of his 15 career losses Eddy has suffered 5 knockouts which would bode well for Daley. In respect of any other potential opponents I think Eddy would be a safe bet but that’s only based on the fact that he is the BAMMA champion and it’s been a long time coming since BAMMA have been able to offer Daley a title shot.
Leon “Rocky” Edwards – Edwards won the BAMMA British Welterweight Title against Wayne Murrie in dominant fashion at BAMMA 15 and again could be a great opponent for Daley. Edwards has looked super impressive as of late and the UTC protégé certainly has a bright future for himself in the sport. Would it be too early to feed him to the sharks and would BAMMA be willing to let their newest champion face perhaps his biggest test in his first title defence? I think those are the barriers to having this fight booked especially if BAMMA are looking to build a star with Edwards. Im absolutely not saying that Edwards wouldn’t be able to beat Daley but I just think that a loss in his first title defence would not only damage his record but also could dent his confidence and diminish his chances of being a big star.
Melvin “No Mercy” Manhoef – Now who wouldn’t love to see this fight? I beg you find me the man who wouldn’t be excited to watch this fight. Just like Daley, Manhoef regularly switches it up between Kickboxing and MMA and of his twenty eight MMA victories, twenty six come by way of KO! 26 KO’s! Manhoef is next scheduled to take part in the Glory 17 tournament which goes down on 21st June and there is also talk of a Kickboxing match in Spain in July but that still gives him plenty of time to focus and train for Daley in September. From a fan perspective I think this fight would be an absolute barn burner and would attract a crazy amount of attention. I beg you BAMMA, please sign this fight up!
Ben Saunders – I’ve always enjoyed watching Saunders since his time with the UFC and following through to his stint on Bellator. He is also a fighter who always looks for the finish and brings it each and every time he steps in the cage so a potential bout with Daley would certainly be interesting. He does, however, always seem to come up short which is evident in his three failed attempts to win the Bellator tournaments. But perhaps that just highlights what his kryptonite is, Douglas Lima. He is still very much an active Bellator fighter so the logistics of this one may not work but it’s a fight I would certainly pay to see and given his international name certainly one which I would hope BAMMA are milling over.
Shinya Aoki – Aoki is a huge name in MMA and has certainly earned respect across the globe. Boasting a record of 35-6-1 Aoki has mixed it up with the best of best. Eddie Alvarez, Rob McCullough, Rich Clementi, Gilbert Melendez, Caol Uno to name but a few. Aoki has competed at Featherweight, Lightweight and Welterweight during his career so there would be no issues with him making the 170lb mark. Aoki is a huge draw so may cost BAMMA an arm and a leg to bring him over but can you image the atmosphere and following it would generate for the show. Aoki would really challenge Daley in his grappling and ground game and the strength of his judo background could really mitigate Daley’s striking power. A win over Aoki for anyone is huge and for Daley could be his ticket back to the UFC, which is his ultimate goal. Bringing Aoki to Manchester would also do no end of good to BAMMA’s viewing figures and be a real win for the true MMA fans.
So hopefully a good selection of possible opponents for Daley. In my very biased views I would love to see him fight Manhoef but more for a purely entertainment perspective. I think a fight and win over either Eddy Ellis or Shinya Aoki would put him on the right track for a UFC return as I believe he needs to display his evolution as an overall mixed martial artist as opposed to just a one punch fighter. I totally agree that he has been evolving with his striking by competing in these kickboxing fights but what has he been doing with his wrestling and ground game? The UFC Welterweight roster is a total different scene to what it was back in 2010 when he last fought there. There is arguably more strong wrestlers in the division and this is something that I think Daley needs to address and prove before finally making his way back to the promotion.
Well there is also the small hurdle to overcome of Dana White but I secretly think Dana would love him back in the Octagon and will get to a stage where he gives in and gives Daley his second chance. Let’s just pray that Daley can do enough if/when he gets that second chance to hang around for a while.
As always open to comments/feedback/suggestions, drop me a line on Facebook or twitter @mmanarchy