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Paul Daley: 'Scared' Douglas Lima used injury as 'an excuse' not to fight

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Paul Daley saw Douglas Lima last November at Bellator 131. He said he knew then that Lima was not going to make it to Feb. 27.

Daley, the British knockout artist, was supposed to challenge for Lima's belt at Bellator 134 on Friday at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. But last month Lima got hurt in training and had to pull out. Daley will instead meet Andre Santos on the card.

Daley, the UFC and Strikeforce veteran, doesn't seem to be buying that Lima is significantly hurt. He said on Monday's edition of The MMA Hour with Ariel Helwani that Lima seemed "soft" and out of shape when he saw him in November.

"All of a sudden you gotta face this kid from England with an 80-percent knockout ratio and you've never faced anyone like him before and you're fat and out of shape, then of course you're gonna create an excuse," Daley said. "He was gonna be in big trouble. This was my opportunity. I've had other opportunities before and I really wasn't going to let this one pass by. He got lucky to escape."

Daley (35-13-2) concedes that Lima might have an injury of some kind. Just not one that should have forced him out of the fight. Lima tweeted in January that he would be out only six to eight weeks and might be able to return as early as April.

"I have no doubt he has some form of injury," Daley said. "But I'm a hard English man. I've never once pulled out of a fight because of injury. I'm gonna fight regardless. I've fought countless time with injuries. I'm a fighter. That's what I do.

"Obviously, Douglas Lima doesn't have a fighter's mentality."

Daley, 32, has won six of his last seven fights by knockout. In his career, 26 of his 35 victories have come by KO or TKO. "Semtex" was cut by the UFC in May 2010 after he took a swing at Josh Koscheck after the bell. In Strikeforce, he challenged Nick Diaz for the welterweight title in April 2011 and fell by TKO in one of the best first rounds in MMA history.

Daley fought once for Bellator, knocking out Rudy Bears in July 2012. He has had visa issues since then, but sports a 5-1 record in British and Middle Eastern promotions. In his return, he'll meet Santos (37-9), a Brazilian veteran on a six-fight winning streak. If he wins, Daley fully expects a shot at Lima. For real this time.

Lima (26-5) has won five in a row, all by knockout, and sports an 8-1 record in Bellator with the only loss coming against former champion Ben Askren.

It's an impressive resume, but it doesn't change his mind about the injury and Lima's intentions heading into this weekend.

"It is an excuse for not being able to make weight in the time given to him and getting out of a beating," Daley said. "I don't buy it. I think he's most definitely running. He's scared."