clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Paul Daley regrets classic Nick Diaz fight, names matchups to bring him out of retirement

Paul Daley is done fighting, for real, with two notable exceptions.

On Friday at Bellator 281 in London, Daley bid a fond farewell to MMA competition as he won the final fight of his career with a second-round knockout of Wendell Giacomo in front of an arena packed with English supporters. It was the 64th fight of Daley’s career and his 44th win.

Daley is near certain that it is the last time anyone will see him fight inside of a cage. “Semtex” appeared on The MMA Hour on Monday, and when discussing what was arguably his most famous fight, a manic one-round clash with Nick Diaz in April 2011, he also answered what fights would get him to reconsider retirement.

“I don’t wish I could get back any fight in terms of changing what’s already happened, but I think if I was to pick a fight to have a rematch, it would definitely be Nick Diaz or [Jorge] Masvidal, because they’re the ones that have turned into pay-per-view stars and I could get the most money from,” Daley said. “Nick Diaz was a great fight, and I beat Masvidal and he holds the ‘BMF’ belt, I think, even though he’s lost his last fight. Those are the ones that if someone came to me and says, ‘Right, what’s going to get you out of retirement?’ Those two fights, that is it. Those are the only two fights that put me out, because I know they’re going to make me top money.”

Daley battled Diaz and Jorge Masvidal in a span of seven months, first defeating Masvidal by unanimous decision at a Shark Fights event in September 2010 and then challenging Diaz for the Strikeforce welterweight championship the following July. The latter fight is widely regarded as one of the most entertaining bouts in MMA history as Daley and Diaz both rocked each other before Diaz scored the TKO victory with three seconds remaining in the opening round.

As fondly as that bout is remembered by most, Daley isn’t a fan of it himself.

“I don’t like it,” Daley said. “I lost the fight, and I know I could fight better than that. The game plan went out the window. We were prepared for Nick, but he does get a hold of you when he starts talking s***, especially with me, I’m a reactive person and the guy’s talking whatever he’s talking in the cage. Just make sure to swing. Forget the leg kicks and start swinging. The kicking was the plan, but it went as it went.”

Daley, 39, made it clear that he’s satisfied with what he’s done in his MMA career, which included stints with Bellator, UFC, Strikeforce, BAMMA, and numerous other notable promotions, so he’s not pushing for anyone to make fights with Diaz or Masvidal happen.

However, should those rematch opportunities come along, he would sign on without hesitation.

“I’m done, but I did say those two fights,” Daley said. “Diaz. Masvidal. If those ever materialized, I’d 100 percent be down, but those are the only fights, really the only fights.”

“They’ve become huge stars since and I feel like they would accept the fight because we sort of come from the era of those types of fighters and that they kind of see like, ‘Yeah man, Paul was around when we were around. He’s a real fighter, he’s a real dog. He hasn’t got the shine, let me give him a little shine,’” Daley added. “I feel that they’re that type of character. Real recognize real is what we say, but I don’t know if they’re tied into any promotions and that would happen. But if the opportunity comes up, I’d take those fights.”

A pioneer of the U.K. MMA scene who made his pro debut in 2003, Daley described his final fight week experience as being a calm one, especially relative to what others may have expected of him. Daley announced in January that Bellator 281 would mark his last appearance in the cage.

Outside of a few bumps and bruises, he’s pleased with how his career played out.

“Part of me thinks it’s because I know that it’s my last fight,” Daley said of why he wasn’t stressed ahead of his last fight. “People think it might have the opposite kind of—I should be acting differently, but I’m happy. I’m content. So I was just enjoying it knowing that this was it. I’ve had a hell of a long time in this sport, been through ups and downs. It’s been draining on me, not just physically but emotionally. I’ve had to keep pushing, keep going, and doing all kinds of s*** just to keep relevant and stuff like that.

“I’m just happy that I did it, I made it. My sister says I made it out unscathed. Bar the Nick Diaz fight and Douglas Lima I got dropped a couple of times, you’ve never seen me come out bloody, face torn-up, on a stretcher, nothing. I’ve always made it out on my own two feet and looking as sexy as I am now.”

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