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Despite own experiences, Paul Daley says it was a ‘smart move’ for UFC to not cut Conor McGregor

Fairly or unfairly, Paul Daley became somewhat of a measuring stick for UFC indiscretions in 2010 with his infamous after-the-bell punch of Josh Koscheck.

Daley took a post-fight swipe at Koscheck at UFC 113 and was promptly banned from the Octagon for life by promotion president Dana White. In the years since, Daley’s name has become a point of comparison for the UFC’s punishment — or lack thereof — for other fighters who have made regrettable decisions, much in the same way lawyers may point to past cases when arguing whether specific judgements fit specific crimes.

Those comparisons were quickly drawn again last month when Conor McGregor incited chaos at UFC 223 fight week with his attack on the red-corner fighter bus. In the immediate aftermath of a melee that resulted in the cancellation of three bouts and led McGregor to spend a night in a Brooklyn jail, White called the Irishman’s actions “the most disgusting thing that has ever happened in the history of the company.” However, within days, White backpedaled his tone at UFC 223’s post-fight press conference, proclaiming, “there’s a lot worse that goes on in all the other sports, so I’ll take a dolly through a window any day.”

The UFC has said little on McGregor’s situation since, with White telling TMZ that the promotion is waiting to see how the New York legal system handles McGregor before making a decision one way or another.

That sort of patience nor understanding was obviously not awarded to Daley in 2010. But even if it doesn’t mesh with his own UFC experience, the British slugger understands where White is coming from with his tempered response to McGregor.

“I’ve seen all the comparisons, and yeah, the whole situation, it was very similar, and Dana could come across as being a little hypocritical. But for me, it’s a different ballgame,” Daley said Monday on The MMA Hour. “The UFC was in a different place then and it’s in a different place now, and a lot of where they are now is down to Conor McGregor. So if you’ve got someone bringing in money, and is raising the sport and your promotion to greater heights, then you can’t ban him for life because business is going to go bad for you. So I understand.

“Yeah, really, he should be treated the same as I was,” Daley continued. “He should be banned for life. What he did as a guy with his profile in the sport and for the company of the UFC, he should be banned for life, if, for what I did, I got banned for life. But business and business and they need him, and I like Conor McGregor and I respect him, and I respect Dana’s choice. It’s a smart move.”

Daley, 35, is scheduled to fight fellow ex-UFC contender Jon Fitch on Saturday at Bellator 199. The matchup will likely be one of Daley’s final appearances in the Bellator cage. “Semtex” has two fights remaining on his Bellator contract and has already indicated that he plans to leave the promotion after his contract is up because of his unhappiness with the way he has been treated by Scott Coker and Bellator’s executive branch.

That could set the stage for a potential reunion between Daley and the UFC.

The hard-hitting Brit is still a force in the 170-pound division, as proven by his highlight-reel knockout of top-10 welterweight Lorenz Larkin in September, and would be a worthy addition to the UFC’s welterweight ranks.

Daley said Monday that he’d be open to returning to the Octagon, although he isn’t counting on it to happen.

“I never really had bad feelings towards Dana,” Daley said, “because I will make my way in this sport anyway, regardless of what barriers people put up for me, because I am an entertaining fighter. People want to see me fight. I feel like that’s something that I have up on some other guys who wouldn’t really get away with sh*t that I say, because I entertain. I knock people out. I talk the talk and I walk the walk. I always put it on the line. So if Dana came to me with a proposition, I would probably take it because I feel there’s some big fights that could really elevate my financial situations to a whole other level.

“A rematch with Nick Diaz, I’m sure, it’ll be a great event to promote and it would do good numbers and maybe I could make a big chunk off a pay-per-view like that. I’ve fought a lot of the guys there that are highly-ranked guys. Tyron Woodley, the current champion, I went three rounds with in a close fight. So I feel there’s fights there for me. Am I looking to go to the UFC? No. I’m just looking to fight out the fights that I have with Bellator and then just assess the playing field and just see what I want to do, what’s best for me and my family.”

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