“What kind of a person is Paul Daley?”
A few weeks back, prior to an interview with British fighter Paul Daley, a call was sent out over social networking feeds requesting fan questions for the British slugger.
Of all of them, this one seemed to be the most interesting because in addition to the question, there was an additional comment. The statement said to the effect “seems like he’d be a jerk.”
In the past, Daley has been called outspoken, cocky, brash, never apologetic, and that’s gained him a rabid fan base, especially in his home country of Great Britain. But for all those fans that love him, Daley has also become somewhat of a villain in MMA, especially after his sucker punch of opponent Josh Koscheck following their fight at UFC 113 in May 2010.
Daley was ousted from the UFC after the incident and has been black balled from the organization ever since.
In person, Daley has always garnered a huge fan response for signings, and always appears cordial and makes sure to take pictures or whatever he can do to accommodate supporters. He regularly posts on his Facebook page and routinely answers questions and comments, even some that are no so friendly that come towards him.
So is Paul Daley misunderstood or does he purposefully give off a certain demeanor that makes him a villain in many MMA circles?
“I have no idea really,” Daley answered when asked why people think that about him. “I don’t know if it’s some things that I say, when you read them, they can be taken out of context. When you can hear the way I speak or I talk about certain topics, you can see that I’m not that guy.”
Daley has heard that kind of response before, and unlike some fighters who welcome the roll of a villain like Josh Koscheck or Chael Sonnen, he’s just simply himself.
“I’ve heard that a lot and I’m quite shocked that that’s the perception people have of me,” said Daley. “It’d be nice to meet a few more of these fans and it would be nice for a few of these fans to meet people who have actually spoken to me cause I’m not that guy.
“I’m someone that speaks their mind and I like to have my opinion out there, but I’m open to hearing the criticisms as well as long as people are willing to accept mine, and my opinions, and that’s just the character that I am.”
When Daley made that ill fated decision to punch Josh Koscheck after the final bell had sounded on their fight in Montreal, he knew he had done wrong. Since that time, Daley has made apology after apology, and for a fighter who doesn’t live with much regret, that’s one moment he’ll always wish he could take back.
“After the incident with Koscheck, I made an apology immediately. I made a public apology, so everybody knows I’m not proud of what I’ve done, and I don’t take any pride in what I did,” Daley said. “I think purely based on fighting, I’ve proven myself as a fighter even though I’ve taken those two losses from (Nick) Diaz and (Tyron) Woodley. I’ve figured in all of those fights, I’ve entertained, and I’ve shown a constant development since leaving the UFC.”
Over the weekend with the UFC in England, British reporters once again took up Daley’s cause and asked UFC president Dana White if he had softened on his stance to allow the knockout artist back into the promotion.
While White didn’t seem quite as rigid as he once did whenever Daley’s name came up, he still bristled when talking about him.
“I just have a hard time with what Daley did. It’s not like Daley’s been so friendly since that happened either, plus he hasn’t won. The guy’s got to win some fights. Any guy who loses in the UFC or other promotions, you go get some wins and you come back,” White stated.
“I’m not a fan to be honest.”
While Daley and White may never be best friends, they certainly could work together again in the future. Daley says that he’ll always be himself, but that doesn’t mean he’s not capable of change.
He’s even hopeful that eventually more fans will get the chance to see the real Paul Daley, and they’ll come around too.
“I’m aware of that perception, but there’s nothing I can really do apart from meeting more fans, and when I do meet them showing them the real character that I am, because I’m a fan of the sport and I think the fans make this sport. I’m no celebrity. I’m not one of these guys that has an ego. I’m just a really normal guy and people that meet me will say that,” Daley commented.
“I figure if I stay loyal to my fans, I’m always going to have a career somewhere within the sport. I don’t want to be a sellout. I just want to be me.”
Deep down inside, however, there is still a fire burning for Daley to get back to the UFC and prove himself on the largest stage in the world. Daley knows he messed up in the past, but he’s not sweeping that under the rug like it never happened.
He talks openly and honestly about it whenever the subject comes up. He doesn’t shut down the question or avoid giving an answer. Daley knows he screwed up, but like anybody who’s made a mistake in the past, he’s just looking for a second chance.
“It would be good to be back on the biggest stage and see the Semtex that messed up with the Koscheck fight, and the Semtex that I am now,” Daley stated.
Whether he gets that chance or not remains to be seen.