On May 8, 2010, Paul Daley threw the punch that ended his UFC career. After getting dominated on the ground by heated rival Josh Koscheck for the majority of their three-round fight, Daley approached his opponent after the bell and landed what Koscheck later called Daley’s “best shot all night.” The left hook quickly became the sucker punch heard ‘round the world, and it took UFC President Dana White what seemed like 10 seconds to ban the British slugger from the Octagon for life.

In the four-plus years since Daley was booted from the UFC roster, the former welterweight contender’s name has popped up from time to time, but the MMA fans and media, for the most part, have just accepted the fact that “Semtex” was done fighting for the top promotion in the world. Apparently, though, that may not be the case after all. Recent reports say that Daley has gotten in contact with UFC matchmaker Joe Silva and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta in order to try to negotiate a return to the Octagon. For the first time in years, it looks like seeing “Semtex” back in the UFC may become more than just a pipe dream.

It’s easy to forget about anything Daley did inside the Octagon and just focus on the punch that ended up getting him fired, but Daley was legitimately a win over Koscheck away from a welterweight title fight in 2010. “Semtex” destroyed Martin Kampmann in his UFC debut at UFC 103 and put Dustin Hazelett on Dream Street a few months later in a “Knockout of the Night” performance. His two fights inside the Octagon prior to his loss to Koscheck lasted less than five minutes combined. That’s the type of fighter that Dana White usually loves, and Daley hasn’t slowed down in terms of winning or finishing fights over the past few years.

Based on his fighting skills alone, there’s no doubt that Daley deserves a spot on the UFC roster. Since losing his roster spot, Daley has gone 11-4 while competing with everyone from Strikeforce and Bellator in the United States to BAMMA and Cage Warriors overseas. He has scored a stoppage win in all but three of those bouts. Considering that two of those four losses came to current and former UFC welterweight contenders Tyron Woodley and Nick Diaz, it’s hard not to be impressed by Daley’s stretch of fights over the past few years. You can knock his lack of competition all you want, but the fact is that most of the top fighters in the world all reside in one place. Daley wasn’t allowed to fight there, so he did the best with what he had and made sure to use his hands to make a statement whenever possible.

Everything in these last few paragraphs paints a pretty good picture of the things Daley’s supporters can point to when they argue that he deserves a second chance inside the UFC based on his fighting skills alone. However, it’s not Daley, the fighter, that the UFC is hesitant about signing. Instead, it’s Daley, the person.

We’ve seen guys forgiven by the promotion after legal battles, drug-test related suspensions and full-fledged verbal assaults on Dana White and the UFC as a whole. Daley’s sucker punch is worse than everything on that list combined in the eyes of many fans, and whether it was a heat-of-the-moment mistake or not, it’s about as close to an unforgivable action inside the cage as you can get.

It’s not like Daley has been perfect since his UFC departure either. The Brit was released by Bellator last summer after he was charged with assault and obstructing an officer in his native England, charges which prevented him from getting visa clearance in the United States. At one point, the slugger had said the charges had been dropped due to a lack of evidence, but when that turned out not to be the case, Bellator decided to give Daley the axe. Since then, Daley has been bouncing around between organizations overseas, and he’s still going to have to figure out a solution to his visa problems if the UFC decides to bring him back.

There’s no denying that it would be incredibly fun to toss Daley into the middle of the shark tank that is the welterweight division right now. How awesome would a fight between Daley and Matt Brown be? Robbie Lawler? A rematch with Nick Diaz? Those are the types of fights that make MMA fans start to salivate. But should the UFC really forgive Daley committing the ultimate MMA sin and let him get back into the cage just because he can put on a show?

I want to see Daley go to war with the rest of the sluggers as much as everyone else, but should he be pardoned? Jason High was just released for shoving a referee after a fight last weekend. For the UFC to bring back Daley after releasing High seems extremely hypocritical. You can make an argument that Daley served his time and should be given a break, but if there’s anything that deserves a UFC death sentence, then shouldn’t it be exactly what Daley did?

Daley is a joy to watch inside the cage, and there are a handful of fights involving Daley that the UFC could make right now that might cause me to contemplate skipping my own wedding to watch. That being said, there’s no way the UFC should let Daley step back inside the Octagon. “Semtex” may be a completely different person than he was four years ago. He’s grown up, he’s admitted his mistakes and there seems to be a real sense of remorse for what happened in Montreal four years ago. Sadly, none of that should matter. The UFC is the destination for the best professional MMA fighters on the planet, and what Daley did was so unprofessional that his lifetime ban from the Octagon needs to remain exactly that.

About The Author

Vince Carey
Staff Writer

Vince Carey has been writing about the sport of mixed martial arts since 2010. Although he is just 21 years old, the Omaha-based writer is looking to provide readers with interesting content on all things related to MMA.

  • REAL TALK

    He should of gotten kicked out of the promotion. Fine. But never allowed back for something 4 years ago???? There are many on the active UFC roster that have done far worse. COME ON MAN!

  • billy

    Punching another fighter in the face after the bell, should never eeeever be
    forgiven, I dont care what the circumstances are. Your making the
    organization and sport look terrible. At the level of a fighter he was,
    he was supposed to remain professional and suck up the loss. I hope he
    never comes back in the UFC and sets as an example for the present and
    future fighters, for what happens to you when you commit such a
    disgusting, horrific act like that!!!!!!
    The worst part about all of this, is that he didnt even learn, after that incident the following year he was cut from Bellator because he was charged for assault and has visa problems.

  • Oh Really

    Here’s the problem with that argument…the UFC has already supported fighters who did the exact same thing. Heath Herring fought in the UFC after dropping an opponent before the bell in his K-1 fight. When Strikefroce was owned by Zuffa they allowed Mike Kyle to fight for them…Google his fight with Brian Olsen and tell me it wasn’t worse than what Daley did. If the UFC has already excused this behavior before, why should Daley be singled out as not being allowed to fight for the UFC?

    • billy

      Here’s the problem with your reply..Those fighters didnt do those things in the UFC, that was before. The thing you need to realize is that, they wernt banned from the UFC, Daley was. And Daley shouldve been banned cause in no situation should you ever, ever, punch a fighter after the fight is done! If you lost, you lost, dont be a sore loser and ruin the image of the sport!!!!!!!

      • Oh Really

        So your argument isn’t you shouldn’t attack an opponent outside of the fight but rather you shouldn’t attack your opponent outside of the fight in the UFC? Seems like a lame distinction to me. If you were willing to accept others who have basically committed criminal assault in the ring or the cage, why does if it happens in the UFC or not matter at all? They committed the same offense.

        • billy

          No! I never said that and if thats what you take from it, then your a clown.
          If heath and mike performed those acts in the UFC, they wouldve been banned too! Thats what matters if it would happen in the UFC.
          (Personally fighters that do those acts should loose their license and not be allowed to fight!)

          • Oh Really

            So what you are saying is exactly what I said you were saying…”If heath and mike performed those acts in the UFC, they wouldve been banned too!” Please explain to me how this statement does not same that the only difference between what Daley did and what Herring and Kyle did is because it happened in the UFC…and not the act itself as I just said.

          • billy

            Stupid……You asked “If you were willing to accept others who have basically committed criminal assault in the ring or the cage, why does if it happens in the
            UFC or not matter at all?” and I explained it.
            Since the other orgaziations arent banning these morons, atleast the UFC is doing something about it!
            Like I said personally fighters that do those acts should loose their license and not be allowed to fight!

          • Oh Really

            Your insults and name calling simply show how little of an argument you actually have…if you had anything valuable to say you wouldn’t to cast insults. Your argument could stand on its own…instead you try to insult me because you argument is weak and you know it.

            The UFC didn’t do anything…they HIRED these guys who did that. They paid Heath Herring after assaulting another fighter before the bell, they paid Mike Kyle after assaulting Brian Olsen, they paid Gilbert Yvel after he attacked a ref, and the list goes on…the UFC could have done something and not supported those fighters but they chose to go ahead and support them.

            Again you argument centers around Daley did it in the UFC so where he did it is all that matters…