Well, British MMA veteran Paul “Semtex” Daley is at it again. The storied, albeit infamous, fighter is back in the news, and, as usual, it’s not for anything positive.

Daley, who’s been fighting professionally for nine-and-a-half years, is a knockout artist carrying a record of 30-12-2 with a staggering 24 wins coming by some form of knockout or submission by strikes. The fierce 29-year-old has performed in many of the major promotions, including UFC, Strikeforce, BAMMA, Bellator, EliteXC, MFC and Cage Rage.

On the positive side, Daley was the Cage Rage and FX3 welterweight champ, had a UFC “Knockout of the Night” performance, delivered the 2010 Strikeforce “Knockout of the Year,” and won the King of the Ring World and European Muay Thai championships. He also holds notable wins over veterans Martin Kampmann, Duane Ludwig and Jorge Masvidal, while, in the last fifteen fights, only suffering four losses (to Josh Koscheck, Nick Diaz, Tyron Woodley and Kazuo Misaki).

Daley, who first began his foray into martial arts in karate as a child, has been training in Muay Thai and MMA for over a decade. He had trained for a long time out of Team Rough House in Nottingham, England with notable fighters like Dan Hardy, Ross Pearson and Andre Winner before moving to a new gym, Spirit Dojo, in early 2012.

While Semtex has had a somewhat explosive career, he has pretty much imploded over the last few years. He has created so many problems for himself that he is getting to the point where most promoters and sponsors have to be viewing him as unemployable.

One of Daley’s biggest problems, which has proven to cost the talented fighter a lot of money, is his weight. With a 5-foot-9 frame and an athletic build, making weight at 170 pounds should not be a problem for a professional fighter, unless they are built like WEC veteran Marcus “The Wrecking Ball” Hicks who, at 5-foot-6 has never missed weight at 155 pounds. But Daley is not built like Hicks, making his weight problems a function of pure laziness, if nothing else. The British fighter has missed weight six times in the last five years, forfeiting large portions of his fight purses.

However, Daley has some other incidences on his record which have proven to be even worse than frequently missing weight. The most infamous of his stupid decisions came immediately after his last performance in the Octagon.

In the co-main event of UFC 113 in May 2010, Daley faced UFC veteran Josh Koscheck in a bid to move up the welterweight ranks. It was an important fight in his climb up the UFC ladder after coming into the promotion at 2-0 with back-to-back knockouts of Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett. Before the event, UFC President Dana White stated that the winner of the bout would coach against welterweight champ Georges St-Pierre in the twelfth season of The Ultimate Fighter and would get a title shot during the finale. This was a tremendous opportunity for both fighters.

Although the UFC 113 bout was a back-and-forth battle, Koscheck clearly dominated the Brit and won by unanimous decision with a clean sweep of all three rounds. However, immediately after the final bell, Daley made the most publicly idiotic mistake of his life.

As both fighters were standing up and Koscheck was walking away, Daley stood up, pushed past referee Dan Miragliotta, and threw a left hook cheap shot at Koscheck from behind, connecting on the right side of his face. Miragliotta immediately grabbed Daley around the neck and subdued the fighter, while Koscheck continued to walk away and acted like an actual professional.

Immediately following the incident, White permanently cut Daley from the promotion and said he would never fight under his banner ever again. Not only did this incident cost him a career in the premier MMA promotion, but it certainly cost him a lot of money in both fight purses and sponsorship.

After the event, Daley moved into Strikeforce and BAMMA action. His record in BAMMA was 2-0, even though he missed weight in both fights. His shot at Strikeforce was lackluster after his big knockout performance, as he finished his tenure in that promotion with a 1-3 record, including a title shot loss to Nick Diaz by first-round knockout. After his last Strikeforce fight, he was released at his own request, citing a lack of fight opportunities.

So, Daley was bounced from the big show and had underperformed in Strikeforce, but he finally got a fresh break, signing with Bellator, which was coming into a major TV deal with Spike. Bellator would prove to be Daley’s chance to get back on track, get his act together, and start carrying himself like the professional knockout artist he trained to be.

In July 2012, at his Bellator debut, Semtex blew up veteran Rudy Bears with a first-round TKO, and it seemed like his career was looking up. Later in the year, Bellator fans voted on who they wanted to open up the inaugural Spike broadcast, with Daley, Douglas Lima, Ben Saunders and Jon “War Machine” Koppenhaver as the choices. Bellator announced that the main event at Bellator 85 on Jan. 17 would be Daley versus War Machine.

Coming into 2013 with a very sweet Spike TV contract, Bellator was looking to open season eight with the welterweight tournament, and Daley was one of the favorites. Then, on Dec. 7, it was reported that War Machine suffered a bad leg injury and was forced out of the bout. As usual, Daley made things worse for himself.

Going into the holidays, Daley was still set to fight in the Bellator welterweight tournament in 2013. Then, on Dec. 25, it was announced that Daley was out of the tournament.

On Christmas Day, Daley was arrested for his alleged involvement in a bar brawl. Due to his arrest, he is looking at a possibility of two years in jail if convicted. The pending charges have prevented Daley from getting a visa to fight in the United States, which is why he was removed from the Bellator welterweight tournament. While Daley emphatically claims that he was not involved in the bar fight, until he gets his legal woes sorted out he will most likely not be granted the visa he needs to compete in the States.

In the meantime, Daley received permission from Bellator to fight in Europe, where he was attempting to continue working through the Cage Contenders promotion in Ireland. Daley called out UFC veteran Marcus Davis to fight in just over a month. Davis declined, stating that the promotion was not offering him enough money to fight a major competitor in Daley on fairly short notice. Davis has since publicly pointed out the immaturity at which Daley and the promotion have handled his response to the challenge.

Had the recent arrest for assault been a stand-alone event, it probably would not have garnered so much attention from the MMA community, but after the sucker punch of Koscheck, it is very difficult to have any sympathy or understanding for Daley. When a person’s reputation is primarily surrounded by negativity, it becomes hard to catch a break, especially after hitting an opponent with a cheap shot like that. The arrest, subsequent Bellator sidelining, and calling out of Davis are just another chapter of Daley’s poorly plotted career.

If Daley ever plans to work in the United States in the near future, the first step is to get his legal woes sorted out. But, more importantly, the talented welterweight needs to get his act together and stay under the radar. In the same way that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger should never step into a nightclub again, Daley should never enter into a situation where a confrontation may ensue, unless it’s during a round of an MMA bout.

If Semtex continues on his path of missing weight, poor conduct and generally bad judgment, his career will continue to implode before his very eyes until there’s nothing left but a pile of rubble.

Photo: Paul Daley (Brian Townsend/Sherdog)

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Dan Kuhl
Interview Coordinator