When news first broke the UFC had purchased its largest competitor, Strikeforce, few fighters were as infuriated as Paul (Semtex) Daley.
The brash Brit is perhaps best known for his post-fight sucker punch on Josh (Kos) Koscheck at UFC 113 in Montreal last May, a shot that earned him a one-way ticket to the unemployment line. UFC president Dana White axed Daley on the spot.
Say what you will about his attitude, Daley isn't exactly the kind of guy to run from a fight--and maybe the type to throw a punch once one is over, too. Cheap shot aside--mine and his--Daley is as talented a stand-up fighter as the welterweight division has to offer.
The dangerous striker, who has notched 20 knockouts in his eight-year career, loves nothing more than to stand in the centre of the cage and trade punches.
So it came as a bit of a shock that Daley took to his Facebook profile to admit he was considering backing out of his scheduled fight with Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz.
Following some cool-down time though, he realized he couldn't pass up such a big opportunity.
"I honestly thought that I wasn't going to take the fight," Daley said on a Strikeforce conference call. "I was actually a bit hot-headed at the time. I'm that kind of character. The way I saw it was Strikeforce was the biggest competition to the UFC. With Dana White kicking me out of the UFC, I kind of thrived on knowing I was the rival. That was driving me. I was in competition with them directly by being in Strikeforce.
"I think the most important thing for me right now is beating Nick Diaz and becoming the champion. Whatever happens after that will work out, whether I'm fighting guys that are coming from the UFC to Strikeforce or if Dana swallows his pride and has me come over to the UFC to fight. "The most important thing is winning this fight and winning it in style and becoming Strikeforce champion."
Daley will get his chance in the headlining bout of Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley Saturday in San Diego, Calif. Canadian fans can tune into Super Channel to catch the event, which features a co-main event between lightweight champion Gilbert (El Nino) Melendez and Tatsuya (Crusher) Kawajiri.
Diaz admitted he was frustrated when word reached him that Daley might drop out.
"This fight got pushed back and then I hear he's not going to take the fight," Diaz said. "That's not good; that's not motivating. But I feel good about it now. I'm a fighter and I'm ready to fight.
"I'm not going to be the one to back out of this. I'm the last person that's going to be the first guy to back out of a fight."
Stylistically, Diaz has more options for finishing this fight.
A Brazilian jiu jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie, the Stockton, Calif., native knows Daley's weakness is his ground game. Diaz's high punch output, accuracy and unorthodox style make him a threat on his feet. Combine that with an iron jaw and he's damn near impossible to stop.
Diaz can't afford to under estimate Daley's power, though. If he takes too many big shots, it could be a short night.
Daley said his game plan is to force Diaz into a striking battle.
"He does have the option of taking it to the ground and using his jiu jitsu, but my game is to take his options away from him," Daley said. "Though he is a great striker and a great boxer, I want him to have no choice but to stand with me.
"First and foremost I want to win, but I understand as a fighter that I'm an entertainer, as well. So I'd like to win in an entertaining fashion. It's no secret that I'm not a jiu jitsu wizard and I hate wrestlers that are just going to lay-and-pray. My goal is to knock people out and I've been very successful doing it. It doesn't matter who I'm fighting or what kind of style they are, my aim is always to knock the guy out." Diaz said he's ready to handle Daley's striking arsenal.
"Well that's what he does; he throws punches," Diaz said. "I'll try to win and take what I can get. Any way I can win. He's trying to do what he's got to do. I understand that.
"That sounds good for him. He knocks me out--that sounds nice. That's a lovely thought for anyone that's a striker." Now that Strikeforce is owned by UFC parent company Zuffa, LLC, the two will fight under the unified rules of MMA, which means elbows are now legal.
Diaz said he thinks the strikes are bad for the sport.
"I like (the old Strikeforce rules) because they remind me of the PRIDE rules," Diaz said. "That's the way mixed martial arts should be (contested). It benefits mixed martial artists, the more technical grappler and the more technical striker. So it's in favour of everybody except the wrestler, or maybe the stronger guy who's going to hold control.
"The elbows just kind of make it so they're not going to stand the fight up. If a guy's holding you down and the ref is like: 'We want to see some action,' then the guy doesn't let go, he just goes to those short elbows. I think it's boring.
"(And elbows) are cutting me up and I'm not getting paid as well as boxers are and now they're not getting cut as much as me because I'm getting elbowed by a less technical fighter. That's not what you want to see. You want more entertainment in this sport. So I'm just looking at it in everybody's best interest."
MILLER NOT LACKING CONFIDENCE
With no upcoming fight visible on the horizon, Strikeforce middleweight Jason (Mayhem) Miller has turned his attention towards his uFC counterparts and The Ultimate Fighter reality show. "
I will beat the brakes off most of the guys in the middleweight division in the UFC," Miller said in an interview with MMa Fighting. "i guaran-damn-tee it."
Miller was rumoured to face Tim Kennedy in a rubber match last month at strikeforce: Feijao vs. henderson, but the bout was scrapped. Kennedy still competed on the card, submitting Melvin (No Mercy) Manhoef. Miller went on to address the now unlikely rumour that Chael Sonnen and Michael (The Count) Bisping could act as coaches on the 14 season of TUF, insisting he'd be a superior choice.
"First of all, i'm glad that The Ultimate Fighter is getting back on track by putting two guys who are going to be absolutely entertaining on the television," he said. "You got the Republitard vs. The Limey. It's going to be great. It's a step in the right direction. But I still say, give me a break. I'm way more entertaining, and I'll beat both of those guys up."
SILVA GETS HIS WISH
When Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva has his mind set on something, there's no convincing him otherwise.
Despite UFC president Dana White's attempts to book him to face Vitor (The Phenom) Belfort, the former PRIDE middleweight champion lobby on Twitter for a fight with Chris (The Crippler) Leben. Silva has finally gotten his wish, as the two will go toe-to- toe at UFC 132. White confirmed the bout on UFC.com.
"Two fan favourites will go to war as Chris (The Crippler) Leben has verbally agreed to face Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva in Las Vegas (on) July 2," White said.
Silva hasn't fought since his unanimous decision victory over Michael (The Count) Bisping at 110 over a year ago.
He was scheduled to face Yoshihiro (Sexyama) Akiy at UFC 116 last July, but was for out of the fight due to three broken ribs and a torn up knee. Leben stepped in, submitting Akiyama with a triangle choke, but was then knocked out by Brian (All-American) Stann in January.
BUNCH OF FEATHERWEIGHTS
Two UFC lightweight division mainstays are going to move down and try their luck in the featherweight division.
Joe (Daddy) Stevenson and Tyson Griffin have both announced they will test the waters at 145 pounds at UFC Live 4.
The event will be held at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh on June 26. Stevenson is currently riding a three-fight losing streak following his unanimous decision loss to Danny (Last Call) Castillo at UFC Live 3 a month ago. He will debut at featherweight against WEC veteran Javier (Showtime) Vazquez, who lost a unanimous decision to Chad (Money) Mendes at WEC 52 in his last fight.
Meanwhile Griffin is also experiencing a three-fight skid after dropping a split decision to Nik Lentz at UFC 123 last November.
He will to take on former WEC featherweight title contender Manny (Pitbull) Gamburyan. Gamburyan's last outing saw him suffer a knockout loss to Jose (Scarface) Aldo at WEC 51 in September.