clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

'Backed Into a Corner,' Paul Daley Aims to Scuttle Strikeforce Plans, KO Nick Diaz

Whether it's to the head or the body, the left hook has always landed like an explosion. Even when he was a 15-year-old fighting for no real reason, Paul Daley was "knocking out grown-ass men," as he puts it. These days, Daley is among the most feared strikers in MMA, a KO artist who has separated opponents from consciousness on many an occasion.

It is a gift that has made him a fair amount of money and put him on the verge of a major championship a few times, but the British bomber is still looking for that crown. His next opportunity comes as the challenger in Saturday's Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley main event.

Though he's bluntly honest in saying that his training camp could have gone better, he's coming to America with the idea of roughing up Nick Diaz.

"I don't think Nick is going to come forward against me," Daley told MMA Fighting. "He has done it in previous fights, but I doubt he'll come straight on against me. He's been in with some heavy hitters but I don't think he's been in with anyone who hits as hard as me and is at that stage where he's smashing people up ... I feel I'm in that kind of mode that if I hit anybody, they're going to sleep. If Nick Diaz wants to try that out, I'd love to give him the opportunity to do it."

Diaz isn't usually known to shy away from a brawl (even in his last fight with Evangelista "Cyborg Santos, Diaz spent 9:18 of a possible 9:34 standing), but Daley think the Stockton, California fighter will have second thoughts against him.

That's not to say he has any sort of disdain for Diaz as a fighter. In fact, he's quite complimentary of him, characterizing him as a "great" fighter, and saying "he fights the way everyone should fight, never trying to play it safe."
The fact that [Diaz's camp is] being quiet, it tells me they're a little bit nervous.
-- Paul Daley

But given the new reality of MMA, with Zuffa owning both of the sport's largest companies, there seems to be a lot more at stake with winning and losing. Because of it, Daley wonders if Diaz will become more conservative, afraid to squander the potential opportunities that could be coming his way.

What makes him think that? For one, he finds it a little curious that Diaz and his camp have been fairly quiet in the leadup to this fight.

"What that tells me is that they're going to fight to a game plan," he said. "They're not going to fight the way Nick usually fights, which is on emotion. He probably told Nick I'm going to try to draw him into a standup battle, and not to do that, because the likelihood is, you will get knocked out no matter how good your chin is. The fact that they're being quiet, it tells me they're a little bit nervous."

Daley says he expects Diaz to try to take him down, but that he'll have no choice but to stand with him and "throw his pitter-patter shots."

Still, he's not expecting it to be easy by any means. In fact, while most fighters as a matter of routine suggest that every camp is the best of their career, Daley bluntly admits that his prep time for this fight was not ideal. He only had six weeks from his last fight -- a first-round KO of Yuya Shirai in Manchester, England -- until Saturday. For a fight of this magnitude, he would have preferred an 8-12 week camp, but the timeline for a title fight was moved up when Strikeforce postponed the second round of the Heavyweight World Grand Prix. That made it difficult to taper his conditioning and have himself in optimal shape. It is not, however, something Daley is totally unfamiliar with; this is his 7th fight in the last 15 months.

He also has suspicions that maybe, just maybe, Strikeforce isn't so concerned about what's in his best interest.

"I think the Strikeforce people are very smart in how they offer these fights," he said. "I don't think they want to give me time to prepare for Nick Diaz. I have the name but they want to try to limit my chances as much as possible, flying me out of the country late, sort of backing me into a corner to take the fight. First they wanted me to take in January, and I said no coming straight off the Scott Smith fight. I think they don't want me to get my stride and prepare for Diaz, is what I feel. But I'm taking the fight, and I'm confident."
I do anticipate a difficult fight, but I truly believe as good as people say Nick's chin is, if I hit him, he's going to sleep.
-- Paul Daley

It's never easy to tell if a fighter is using a perceived slight as motivation or if he truly believes in a conspiracy, but Daley is adamant that this is the fight for which he's been preparing since he and the UFC parted ways following his UFC 113 post-fight punch against Josh Koscheck, an action which caused UFC president Dana White to ban him for life.

Upon becoming a free agent, Daley looked around the world's MMA welterweight landscape and quickly identified Diaz as his ultimate target, acknowledging him as the best 170-pounder outside of the UFC. Since then, he says, he's purposely selected opponents that could help him prepare for Diaz's skill set.

Daley expects to be fighting in front of a pro-Diaz crowd, in an American promotion that he believes would prefer to see an American champion emerge with the belt. He says they are not going to leave happy. Diaz doesn't have the wrestling to take him down, and if it stays standing, the man with difference-making hands, the ones that have been destroying targets since he was a kid, is going to have gold in those hands at the end of the night

"I do anticipate a difficult fight, but I truly believe as good as people say Nick's chin is, if i hit him, he's going to sleep," he said. "One other thing for him to think about: there's elbows in Strikeforce now. He cuts easily, and my elbows are from hell. But he's not going to come straight on against me. My jab is like most people's right hand. I could stop him with a cut. I could knee the f--- out of him, I could kick him. I could ground-and-pound him. Nick Diaz is in a world of trouble. I'm going to go in there and I'm going to punch, kick and elbow him until the referee pulls me off of him, and that's exactly how it's going to happen."

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the MMA Fighting Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of all your fighting news from MMA Fighting