He is the number one welterweight in Europe. He has competed both in the USA and in Japan as well as all the big shows in the UK. He is confident enough to turn down an offer from the UFC. He has already achieved more than most British fighters and is still only 24 years old. Paul Daley is one of the fastest-rising stars on the international Mixed Martial Arts scene.
Ground & Pound's Tim Leidecker had the opportunity to talk to "Semtex" ahead of his big FX3 title defense against German Wunderkind Daniel Weichel.
Ground & Pound: Thanks for taking the time to do the interview, Paul. You must have balls like grapefruits to reject an offer from the UFC! Why did you do that?
Paul Daley: Because EliteXC has offered me a more flexible contract, plus the UFC 170lbs. division is stacked. I want more time to develop and grow as a fighter. I want to be the greatest and I am in no rush.
GnP: EliteXC also has fighters like Jake Shields and Mike Pyle under contract. Would that be the kind of opposition you look forward to fighting?
PD: I'll fight whoever they ask me to fight. Those guys are real tough, but it's the kind of challange that I need to drive me.
GnP: Before heading off to the States, you have some unfinished business here in Europe. I'm talking about your upcoming fights with Daniel Weichel and Paul Kelly. What are your thoughts on these two fights?
PD: They are fights I want to win to put a stamp on my role in the UK and European scene. I will be going to the EliteXC with both my belts!
GnP: The German fans are of course particulary thrilled about your fight with Daniel. How do you rate him and what's your prediction going into the fight?
PD: He is a great fighter! I think he has good ability, but I have been training hard so I predict a win by KO or TKO.
GnP: In your last battle against Luiz Azeredo you were taken down a lot which might have cost you the fight. Is wrestling something you are working the hardest to improve?
PD: Not really, I think my wrestling is underrated, becauase it is something that people have not seen a lot of. For the Azeredo fight I had to cut 7kg the day before the Weigh-In, so I was very weak and drained for the fight at 73kg. I have been working on lots of stuff, I have great focus and I will prove this against Daniel.
GnP: Speaking of training, you have gone to many different places like Mike's Gym in Holland or American Top Team in Florida instead of sticking with one particular team or gym. What's the philosophy behind this?
PD: I want to learn different things, skills and drill for the people that do it best. I have that ideal of a travelling warrior, like Jeremy Horn. I ain't just about the UFC, stardom and fame. I want to be the best fighter in the world at all ranges. Hard to achieve, but that is my goal, not matter what ups and downs, wins or losses I may have. This is my ultimate goal! With this I will be undisputed as the greatest MMA fighter ever!
GnP: 2006 was a breakout year for you as you made your debut in both the US and in Japan. What impressions have stuck with you from fighting abroad?
PD: The way organisations are run, different from the UK scene. Also I have met some great people and been given some great advice. I wish to continue to fight all over the world, it's fun.
GnP: At only 1,75m you are among the smaller fighters in the welterweight division. Why did you decide to move up a weight class after having previously fought at lightweight, which seemed more of a natural fit?
PD: I have been middleweight before! I can still fight lightweight, I'll fight where best the challange is. Getting to lightweight is very hard for me, so I don't want to do this too often. I fight where I am more comfortable, this is 170lbs.
GnP: What's your favorite way of spending the time when you don't beat up people in a cage?
PD: Man… I don't know. I like to chill and still do leisure type things, read, watch DVDs, go for meals and drinks, normal stuff.
GnP: Who are the three people who have had most influence on your career so far?
PD: First of all my coach: Rupurt Smile. Then basically everybody at American Top Team (all international training). I don't know, it's hard to name just three people, many people have and continue to inspire and help me out.
GnP: Do you have a role model you are trying to mould your fighting style after?
PD: All the greats in the aspects of MMA. I have a super image in my head: (Buakaw) Por.Pramuk, Sean Sherk, Mintauro, Fedor… everyone has something to offer. I want to find those things and mold them into my game.
GnP: Do you have a role model outside the cage?
PD: All aspiring youth and those people from a hard life that have achived great things.
GnP: What's your take on the European fight scene in general and the German one in particular?
PD: Hmmm, I don't know. There are some pretty tough guys around, but I didn't have had the chance to go to many shows in Germany or Europe.
GnP: County or Forest?
PD: Forest… I was on their youth team. (laughs)
GnP: In the end, do you have a message for your fans in Germany, Austria and Switzerland?
PD: Thanks for the continued support! Keep following the carrer of myself and be part of something great. Stay positive in life and aim high! Keep up to date with my career at http://www.blackstar-ent.com/. Peace!