It’s been rumored, it’s been denied, it’s been on our minds for quite some time. And today it’s finally been confirmed: controversial heavy-handed striker and UFC exile Paul Daley is headed to strikeforce, according to both MMAMania and MMAWeekly. It was rumored that Daley had been in serious negotiations with the number 2 MMA promotion in the USA (and the world, for that matter) for months now, and it’s now known that “Semtex” has signed a six-fight, multi-year contract.
Paul Daley has seen his fair share of highs and lows throughout his tumultuous career. His run as a potential Welterweight contender in the now-defunct Elite XC promotion would be cut short by Jake Shields in a bout that snapped Daley’s six-fight winning streak, all of which came by stoppage (in one way or another) due to strikes. Ironically, Daley would fall to another high-caliber wrestler and once again have a good winning streak snapped when Josh Koscheck picked him apart so thoroughly that Daley famously attacked Koscheck post-fight out of frustration, a move that resulted in a lifetime ban from the UFC courtesy of UFC President Dana White. Daley has competed twice since getting the axe from the world’s biggest MMA promotion, and he’s won both times. Most recently, Daley outweighed (and was fined accordingly) but ultimately outpointed Jorge Masvidal at Shark Fights 13.
It is not currently confirmed who Daley will face, although the rumor mill seems to be pointing in the direction of Evangelista Santos, another hard-hitting Welterweight striker. He’s coming off of a two-fight, two-(T)KO win streak, but Santos is perhaps best known as the husband of female sensation Cristiane Santos. Evangelista “Cyborg” is a tough opponent even if his wife is more famous, and should be an excellent test for “Semtex”.
And in regards to Semtex fighting in Strikeforce? I’ve got no major problems with it. As I’ve said before, I believe that what Daley did was wrong but not exactly Scarlet Letter-worthy. Love him or hate him, Paul Daley is one of the last true, great, high-level pure strikers left in a Welterweight division that is becoming increasingly dominated by wrestlers. He will likely always be one-dimensional, with his kryptonite forever being the ground game, but against the right opponents Daley is a flawless striker that could become a major-name star and a marketable draw.
I think Daley has some good fights in store for him in Strikeforce. I honestly think he’ll work his way up to a title shot sooner rather than later, seeing that the UFC has almost all of the best Welterweights and “Semtex” has already proven that he can hang with most of them. But therein lies the rub: the UFC may have almost all of the top-ranked Welterweights, but Strikeforce has Nick Diaz. Diaz remains one of Strikeforce’s best fighters, and in a match pitting two controversial bad boys who love to strike against each other, Diaz/Daley would be a major-money fight that would likely score several Fight of the Year nominations.
Of course, all of this hinges on Daley being able to control his temper and make weight. Being controversial is fine, showing up out-of-shape is an entirely different scenario. Daley is beginning to become a repeat loser in the battle against the scale, and he needs to take his weight-cutting regimen seriously if he wants to make the most out of this Strikeforce deal. And he needs to keep that hot temper in check, or else he’ll find that he’s burned bridges with the two biggest sources of income he could ever possibly have.
But when all is said and done, I’m pretty hopeful for Paul Daley in Strikeforce. If he’s used right, and matched up against the right kinds of opponents, he has a good shot at winning several fights in dominating fashion. Paul Daley may always be one-dimensional, but at least he’s really entertaining in that one dimension. I look forward to seeing him debut in Strikeforce.
And what about you, fans and friends? Now that it’s official, how far do you see “Semtex” going in Strikeforce?