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Paul Daley still hoping for Bellator release, feels ‘lack of respect’ from promotion

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Paul Daley called for his release from Bellator on Facebook earlier this month and he asked for it privately with an executive, too, Daley told Ariel Helwani on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour. That executive, Daley said, told him he was free and clear.

Apparently, that was not true.

“I thought it was legit,” Daley said. “I thought I was free of Bellator. The next thing I’m hearing, I’m not.”

Daley, 34, does still want out for many reasons. “Semtex” said he wants to remain active and he has not been offered a fight of interest since he knocked out Lorenz Larkin back in September. Daley said he believed that was a signature win for his career — and a highlight-reel knockout. But he believes Bellator has not done enough to push him since that victory.

“For me, I feel like they didn’t capitalize on that,” Daley said. “They didn’t capitalize it. Then they didn’t give me a fight that I thought made sense. Then they sort of like just forgot about me and they started talking about MVP. He was booed his last fight. He fought a terrible boxing match on British TV against some guy who should be working at the doors of McDonald’s or something like that. I got pissed off.”

“MVP” is Michael Page, one of Bellator’s top prospects. Daley and Page have a bit of an outside-the-cage beef that almost came to a head in the stands at an event last year. Daley said Bellator offered him Page on March 9, but the timing was not right for that bout. He thinks that’s when things got “sour” with Bellator.

“For me, I feel like there’s a lack of respect from Bellator,” Daley said. “That’s what I feel like. It’s like they don’t respect or really value me as a fighter. They know I’ll fight, that’s why they like me. … But I don’t think they value me as far as demand and such.”

Daley turns 35 years old next month and said he didn’t want to be fighting too long after that. The British fighter said he was planning on retiring in around 18 months. In that time, he wants to fight as much as possible.

“I like to keep active,” Daley said. “I do like to be with a big promotion, maybe for the TV exposure, the purses are slightly bigger. But for me, I like to be active. Especially for me, like I said, I’m on the back end of my career. I want to keep going. I don’t want to be sat out, fighting twice a year or three times a year. I want to be fighting, I want to be doing what I love to do. So yeah, I would love to be released from my contract.”

Daley (40-15-2) said he has two fights remaining on his contract and does not plan to extend his deal with Bellator when those two fights are up. He’d prefer to just be let go. “Semtex” did say he’d have some interest in returning to the UFC.

He was released from the UFC in 2010 when he threw a punch at Josh Koscheck after the bell of their UFC 113 fight. UFC president Dana White vowed to ban him from the promotion forever. But Daley thinks after eight years there would be a detente.

“I think it’s a great storyline,” Daley said. “I think the guys at the UFC now will see that it’s a great storyline. I think there are some great fights for me still there in the UFC. But my main objective is just to fight and be active. That’s what I want to do.”

Daley said rematches with Nick Diaz and Tyron Woodley would be dream bouts for him in the UFC. But he’s unsure if he’ll ever get them. That doesn’t matter to him, he said, as much as fighting as much as possible and continuing to put on shows for the fans. Daley said he wants to be valued as one of the best British MMA fighters ever. He said he wants to be put in the class of Michael Bisping as a Brit who has fought in the U.S. for more than a decade.

“I don’t get the credit I deserve,” Daley said. “I’m not getting it in Bellator. So, f*ck it. We’ll see where we can get some respect, make some more money and put on some more entertaining fights.”