January 20, 2017

Bellator 170: Paul Daley Makes You Wonder What Could Have Been

By Raphael Garcia

Mixed martial arts is filled with “what if” discussions. Fans opine about fantasy matchups and super fights, but one aspect of that conversation surrounds fighters that didn’t live up to expectations. Many of these fighters fell victim to injuries or other situations that kept them away from greatness. One such individual is Paul Daley. His career is headed towards its twilight phase, and it’s hard not to wonder what could have been with one of the hardest hitters in the sport.

Looking back at Daley’s highlight reel uncovers a number of devastating and violent knockouts for the man they call “Semtex.” Every year, Sherdog.com compiles an “All Violence Team” that includes men and women capable of meting out punishment every time they step into the cage. Daley has been selected for this group a number of times, but he deserves a permanent place on the listing. Twenty-eight of his 38 professional wins have come by some sort of knockout; those kinds of numbers are more akin to a professional boxer than the average mixed martial artist.

But unfortunately for Daley, one moment stands out as the turning point in his career. On May 8, 2010 at UFC 113 he took a swing at Josh Koscheck after a frustrating loss. Koscheck found a way to get under Daley’s skin (as he did to many fighters) causing Daley to lose his cool and lash out well past the end of the fight. The response was quick and harsh, as Daley was cut from the promotion immediately after the event ended.

Nearly seven years have passed and Daley is still nowhere near returning to the largest organization in the sport. He’s put together a 15-5 record outside the promotion, but his list of wins doesn’t include MMA’s biggest names. His 2010 victory over Jorge Masvidal at Shark Fights 14 is perhaps the biggest win in his career. And back in 2011, Daley and Nick Diaz gave us one of the greatest rounds in the history of the sport during a Strikeforce event. Still, one wonders how far Daley could have climbed if he was never cut from the UFC.

While his actions were unfortunate, his transgression shouldn’t equate to a lifetime ban. Daley has been a viable draw for organizations like BAMMA and Bellator. His fighting style and ability to promote himself has helped him remain an interesting character in the sport, and he has continued to provide devastating knockouts in the cage. Even though he has struggled when matched against some of the bigger names available, such as Douglas Lima and Alexander Yakovlev, Daley still produces at a high enough clip that he should still be on the UFC’s radar. His Bellator 170 matchup against Brennan Ward represents another opportunity to add to his sizable highlight reel while facing opposition comparable to that which he might face in the Octagon.

If you’re looking for some highlights to shock and awe, look no further than Paul Daley. With nearly 14 years of experience, Daley has given fans some of the most cringeworthy knockouts and stoppages that the sport has ever seen. His time with the UFC was cut short, which raises the question as to how far he could have gone in the biggest promotion in the sport. But regardless of whether he ever gets the chance to redeem himself, he continues to do what he does best, and that’s separate opponents from their consciousness.

Bellator 170: Ortiz vs. Sonnen takes place January 21, 2017 at The Forum in Inglewood, California.

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