British striking standout Paul Daley wants to return to the UFC and believes now is the right time.
Daley made his UFC debut at UFC 103 in September 2009 with an impressive first-round knockout of Martin Kampmann. He made short work of Dustin Hazelett in his next outing at UFC 108, winning again by first-round knockout. He was on the rise in popularity and ranking, but his actions following his UFC 113 co-main event fight against Josh Koscheck got him banned from the organization.
The two brash welterweights lobbed verbal jabs at one another in the lead-up to the fight. There was a title fight with then-champion Georges St-Pierre potentially waiting for the winner.
Stylistically, it was a match-up of conflicting styles, and Koscheck utilized his wrestling to continually take Daley down. As the fight wore on, Daley’s frustration mounted. The two rivals taunted each other during the bout, but after fifteen minutes of fighting it was clear Koscheck had won a unanimous decision. The final bell sounded signifying the end of the fight, and Kocheck said something to Daley as he stood up and celebrated his clear-cut win. What Daley did next was a disgusting display of unsportsmanlike conduct. Daley got up from his back and sucker-punched Koscheck.
“He’s done. I don’t give a (expletive) if he’s the best 170-pounder in the world, he’ll never come back here again. He’ll never come back,” said UFC president Dana White during the event’s post-fight press conference (watch the video here). “I don’t care if he fights in every show all over the world and becomes the best and everybody thinks he’s the pound-for-pound best in the world. He will never fight in the UFC ever again.”
Four years removed from the incident, Daley is lobbying for a UFC return and a change of mind from White.
“I’ve got things in place where if the UFC is ready to have me, I’m ready to go back,” Daley recently told The Great MMA Debate Podcast. “My BAMMA contract is up in December. I have a few people working on my behalf, very influential people. Glenn Robinson from Blackzilians, Rashad Evans’ manager, Michael Johnson’s manager; he’s been working on my behalf and speaking to Lorenzo (Fertitta).”
Daley also has a British-based management firm lobbying helping in his efforts to return to the Octagon. But the biggest obstacle in the way of Daley returning to the UFC is his visa issue preventing him from entering the U.S.
“The main sticking point is the visa issue. I’m pretty sure – I’m not like some kind of super villain, super criminal, nothing like that. I’m sure if the UFC would put their attorneys on my visa application I would be able to get back in the U.S.,” said Daley.
The 31-year-old Brit was allegedly involved in a bar fight in his native England in December 2012. His visa application was denied while the authorities investigated the incident. He was under contract with Bellator MMA at the time and later released from the fight promotion after pleading guilty to assault charges and two counts of obstructing an officer stemming from the bar fight.
In Daley’s mind, if he can resolve his visa issues, he’d be back in the UFC.
“That’s the first stage. As soon as I get my visa I’m confident that we can arrange a meeting, face-to-face, with Dana White, or the UFC will sign me. We’ll see what happens,” he said.