Paul “Semtex” Daley vs. Michael “Venom” Page. Literally years in the making, arguably the biggest fight in U.K. MMA history is scheduled to take place on Saturday Feb. 16, but it won’t be anywhere in the United Kingdom. Instead, Bellator decided to place this fight in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It’s understandable from a business point of view, with this bout serving as one of the quarterfinals of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix, which will be exclusively broadcast stateside on the promotions broadcast partner DAZN, but it’s still less than ideal for one half of the main event, Daley.
“I would have preferred the fight be in the U.K., for fans, family and friends,” Daley told ESPN. “I’m comfortable in the US, I feel most of my career has taken place there.”
Pitting two of the best strikers at 170 lbs seems like a no-brainer, and the extra spice of a two-year build up will certainly add to the promotion’s marketing efforts. The fact that the former Strikeforce champion can get the win over Page en route to hopefully getting a title in Bellator is, for him at least, the real incentive.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Daley said. “It’s a great setting for us both, I mean being part of the welterweight tournament. It’s a great match up.”
He’ll be just a few days shy of his 36th birthday and with a pro record including 58 mixed martial arts bouts, the veteran from Nottingham, England has seen it all and done it all. While he may have allowed his emotions to get the better of him in the past, he won’t let himself get caught up in any of the pre-fight hullabaloo this time around.
“I mean I’m an emotional fighter anyway,” Daley explained. “I’m not ashamed to admit that, emotions have an important place in fighting, in my opinion. But for me this fight just feels like, ‘now’s the time’. I’m not really that emotionally charged for this bout, in the way of animosity or that, the emotion if any is that of relief. The fight is happening.”
“He’s a great fighter, extremely talented and unique. It will be a great fight. I look forward to the fight.”
While much will be made of the bout’s location, with folks in the U.K. perhaps feeling a little burned, this might not be a one-and-done situation. Daley is open to a rematch regardless of the outcome, if of course the price is right.
“I’m not looking to rematches, but money could change that.”
For someone that has given his fair share of tasty soundbites in the build up to a fight, Daley now appears to be razor-focussed on the task at hand as he attempts to hand the undefeated Londoner, Page, his very first career loss.
“February 16th, talking is over,” he said. “I’m going to knock him out.”