Strikeforce: Paul Daley Looks to Cement Legacy Against Nick Diaz

Paul Daley

Paul Daley (Portrait by Lee Whitehead)

Webster’s dictionary defines the word legacy as “something transmitted by or received from an ancestor or predecessor or from the past.”

For Strikeforce welterweight Paul Daley (27-9-2), the thought of cementing a legacy is on his mind going into his attempt at gaining the welterweight title against Nick Diaz on April 9.

At Strikeforce: Diaz vs. Daley in San Diego, the fighter with the nickname “Semtex” will look to become the first British fighter to own a major mixed martial arts title. It will be there that Daley will attempt to lay the foundation of his legacy, so future generations of British fighters can have something to shoot for.

The closer the date of the fight has come, the more Daley has become aware of his opportunity to make history.

“People around me have brought that to my attention,” Daley said recently of his potential to be the first major titleholder from Britain.  “I’ve challenged for titles in the past, and again, this is an opportunity for me to be the first British mixed martial arts fighter to win a significant world title.”

Now, with the fight just days away, Daley prepares for the chance at a title. For all the talk from fighters saying they want to make a legacy, Daley feels those competitors don’t fully understand what it means to make one. After his fight on Saturday, he’ll look to be the leading example of what it takes to actually leave the type of legacy everyone else simply talks about.

Daley expanded on how aware he is of the potential to become the first British major title holder.

“Yeah, I’m fully aware of it.  I’m training with that in mind,” he said.  “When people look back at the history of MMA and the history of British MMA fighters, they’ll remember me as being the first guy that won a major U.S. title.  And I’ll always be there in history.

“And legacy is something that a lot of people talk about, but I don’t think they really understand what it means to someone who believes in such a thing.  I really do want a legacy.”

Standing across from Daley on Saturday night will be none other than Strikeforce welterweight champion Nick Diaz (24-7, 1 NC). The champ is on a nine-fight winning streak and clearly stands as one of the best 170-pound fighters in the world. As a jiu-jitsu black belt under Cesar Gracie, Diaz is a phenomenal talent on the ground, but if one were to judge him based off his habits in the cage, you would think the man’s primary discipline is boxing.

In his current win streak, eight of the wins have come by some form of stoppage, with five of them by way of knockout or technical knockout. Although his boxing can be viewed as awkward at times, no one can make a valid claim that it’s not effective. By lightly peppering his opponents on the feet with jabs, straights and hooks, Diaz breaks down his opposition until they are no longer able to stand and trade with him.

Daley comes into this fight as a world-renowned striker and the favorite on the feet, but has the utmost respect for what Diaz can do while standing with a pair of four-ounce gloves strapped on.

“I think Nick is one of the best boxers in MMA,” Daley said about the champion.  “Granted, he doesn’t have the sort of one punch knockout power that I have, but it’s proven that he’s had among the best (boxing) in MMA.  His distance, his timing, his range (are) that of a boxer.  He’s a fantastic striker.”

It’s clear Diaz isn’t one to back down from any type of fight. Against Daley, opponents have found themselves meeting “the Sandman” on more than one occasion, being on the receiving end of monstrous left hooks from the British fighter. Regardless of the stand-up striking prowess of Daley, Diaz will likely stand and bang with him if he holds true to his Stockton tagline…

“Don’t be scared, homie.”

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Erik Fontanez is a staff writer for
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