Off the back of his spectacular second round KO of Lorenz Larkin at Bellator 183 it’s clear that Paul Daley is back to his specialism of turning people’s lights out in brutal fashion. It’s a welcome return to form for the British welterweight, who packs a powerful left hook, and it’s also a timely reminder that “Semtex” is not only explosive by name but also by nature.
The pre-fight build up with Lorenz Larkin seemed as equally charged as the carnage he left in his wake on fight night, and it’s something which Daley is keen to delve into. It was clear when he met Larkin face to face at the pre-fight weigh-ins, there had to be an element of goading the pubic were not privy to behind closed doors.
Daley laughed when recounting the episode that occurred the week of the fight.
“He said some strange things in the build up to the fight — ‘I hate Paul’ and ‘This is a grudge match’, and it didn’t add up. So when I saw him in the elevator, I approached him,” Daley tells me. “He didn’t like it. We had a little altercation in the elevator on the Wednesday of fight week. I was on my own. I had to show Larkin that this was real, I didn’t need my team with me. He was with his team, four of his guys in the lift. I just stepped up to him and said ‘What’s up? You’re a little bitch!’ I just had to let him know. It went off and his team were holding him back whilst I stood there laughing at him.”
Following the event, Larkin, on more than one occasion, was keen to point to a potential rematch in the very near future. Daley is keen to contextualize events following the fight, which led to Larkin feeling he was owed this repeat, given his immediate call out following the fight.
“He didn’t get hard done by, he got knocked out. I know where the call out for a rematch came from. Back in the changing room I said ‘You’re a cool guy. You’ve held a high ranking in the UFC. In the future, if things start to go right for you, if you want a rematch, I will be happy to give you a rematch.’ But now he’s shouting for an immediate rematch. The same will happen, he’s not on my level.
“When I started pressing after the first round he had nothing to offer me,” he said. “I knew I would get the finish. He was out of it looking in all directions and shit.”
With his return to form and the spectacular way in which he has achieved this, Daley is a man with options, many of which he is still exploring with Scott Coker. It’s a position he is clearly relishing.
“I’m trying to look at what options there are. Do I go down the kickboxing route, or do I wait for the winner of the Rory MacDonald and Douglas Lima fight?” he said. “For me no one can beat me in the division apart from, on paper, those who are fighting for the belt, because they have beaten me.
“I’m comfortable in taking another fight before title fight, or before we push out the big Michael ‘Venom’ Page fight. It’s all down to timing. Ideally for me, it’s got to be in the UK and a summer showdown at Wembley Arena make sense for me. It has to be big.”
Daley’s options do not just begin and end at welterweight. Given the selection available at other divisions, Daley is not averse to moving up in weight in a bid to stay busy.
“I’d love to move up to middleweight as there are middleweight fighters that I’m sure I can take on. The fight we were trying to make happen previously, before he was matched up to fight Gegard Mousasi, was Alexander Shlemenko,” he said. “The history to that is Jordan Radev, who I beat up at BAMMA, has a KO victory over Shlemenko. If Radev can knock Shlemenko out, I certainly can knock Shlemenko out. We were going down that route for a bit, but he took the Mousasi fight and I took the Larkin fight so it kinda faded away.”
There’s a forthcoming joint fight card between BAMMA and Bellator that will take place on UK soil in Newcastle, this December. Given the close working relationship between the two promotions, and with one fight left on Daley’s BAMMA deal, this is clearly a scenario that he has also weighed.
“To challenge for the welterweight strap in BAMMA would be interesting, as I’m undefeated in BAMMA. It’s an interesting idea. Lohore, the current champ, is a good guy. I like the guy and I’m a confident guy so I don’t want it to come across bad, but realistically he doesn’t have much of a chance against me. His style just plays completely into my hands and I’m pretty sure I’d knock him out” said Daley. “But I like him, he’s always been very respectful of me and I like that and there aren’t that many like that especially in this Conor McGregor era. They all think they are Conor McGregor. It’s good to have a guy like that and I wouldn’t wanna fight him or Terry Brazier really.”
Daley’s call outs in the last of his two fights have featured the flamboyant British welterweight Page, who he has an ongoing and unresolved feud with. It would appear that Daley has flip flopped between calling out the flashy striker, but then subsequently appearing to backtrack or not following through on his desire to make the fight happen.
Daley is keen to clear up what seems like an incongruent approach to what could arguably be this decade’s version of Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank.
“For me as a fighter, I’ve got to look ahead and try and line people up and put people’s names in a hat and see where it will lead to.” Daley continues, “As a fighter I will fight everybody, but it has to make sense for me. The only thing about that fight is that it has to be built up, it has to be Wembley, and it has to be Summer 2018.
“If we can agree to the money and all that, I would sign the fight today! But when I make easy work of him, don’t be surprised. I will make easy work of MVP. Look at the Fernado Gonzales fight, he showed weaknesses and Gonzales is a low level guy. I’ve been fighting my entire career against top guys and that says a lot. He’s great, he’s athletic, he’s tricky and no, you cannot get someone in fight camp to emulate his style, but MVP is light work — light work, trust me.
“MVP can dance around, do the snake arms, do the f—kin’ robot all he likes, but he will get knocked out if he stays standing with me.”