Watch: Paul ‘Semtex’ Daley tells Notts TV he wants to go back to UFC.
He’s one of MMA’s most explosive stars and his performances at home and overseas helped grow the sport locally and nationally. Now Nottingham’s Paul Daley is ready to talk about how the story ends for ‘Semtex’. He spoke to Jake Meskell and Tiffany Higgins.
“He will never come back here again.”
These were the damning words of Dana White, President of UFC, after Nottingham fighter Paul Daley sucker-punched an opponent in 2010.
But now Daley wants a second chance.
The 34-year-old, known in the sport as ‘Semtex’, told Notts TV he’s looking to build bridges leading to an unlikely return to Mixed Martial Art’s biggest promotion, the Ultimate Fighting Championship. It comes as he heads into the final stages of a career which has always been explosive, sometimes controversial, but never dull.
“For me an interesting story is obviously a return,” he said.
“I think under the new owners [of UFC] I think that’s a very plausible possibility.”
He added: “I would accept an offer to go back, what happened after the Koscheck fight [following a defeat in 2010] has been a big set back to my career.”
White remains the promotion’s president, but in 2016 it was bought by a group lead by WME-IMG for between $3.5 and $4 billion. Despite the change in ownership White’s key role in the promotion could see Daley’s hopes damaged.
Daley is still in a contract with Bellator, a rival MMA promotion. But he is hoping to be released from the contract so he can see out the last 18 months of his career as a free agent. This would open up the possibility of a return to the UFC – but of course they need to want to take him back.
“I think with [Conor] McGregor sort of sidelined, John Jones is sidelined, Ronda Rousey has gone to WWE, they need some kind of interesting story that will capture the old fans’ imaginations and go ‘this guy, this guy was banned for life from the UFC and now he’s back’. So hopefully if we can make that happen in the next 18 months that will be ideal.”
Daley, who was born and raised in Carlton, started out in the sport at 18 by training in leisure centres and gyms at a time when the city had no martial arts-specific venues.
‘Semtex’ started to make a name for himself through Cage Rage where his fights saw him earn a four-fight contract with the UFC. In his first two fights Daley impressed, winning both, but it was on his third fight when his career turned. After the bell rang Daley struck his opponent and was consequently banished from the promotion.
His career spans 15 years, 40 MMA wins with 15 losses. From Vegas to Montreal, Semtex has fought around the world flying the flag for his native Nottingham.
He says “It would be good if I could shine the light again on Nottingham in terms of MMA. Because we do have a lot of up and coming talent but I feel like since ive moved away (from the UFC) I feel like a lot of talent is getting missed. So if we can just get the light back on Nottingham we will have another break through star.”
If he fails to be released from his contract then Semtex will need to fight two more times under the Bellator promotion, so it could be a busy year and a half if Daley is to achieve his goal of going back to the UFC.