Paul “Semtex” Daley looks to continue his climb of the UFC’s 170-pound division, as he faces Dustin Hazelett at UFC 108 this Saturday.
Daley was one of the rising stars in the welterweight division, but abruptly retired via a post in an online forum back in February of 2008. Since returning to MMA, Daley has compiled a 5-2 record with his only losses coming at the hands of Jake Shields and Nick Thompson. Daley turned the UFC’s 170-pound division upside-down with his first-round TKO of top UFC welterweight contender Martin Kampmann at UFC 103.
Daley was originally scheduled to face former WEC welterweight champion Carlos Condit on the card, however Condit suffered an injury during training that forced him out of the fight. Daley admitted to being disappointed about Condit being off of the card, saying that he believes that he is the WEC welterweight champion and would like to have faced Condit, who was the last WEC welterweight champion before the UFC absorbed the WEC’s 170-pound division.
“I was looking forward to fighting Carlos,” Daley explained at yesterday’s UFC 108 pre-fight press conference. “As I explained to a few journalists, in my mind I’m the WEC champion. He [Condit] came in, [Martin] Kampmann beat him, [so] Kampmann was the WEC champion. I came in and beat Kampmann.
“That didn’t work out,” he continued. “But I’m still co-main event, fighting a tough guy.”
Hazelett, who stepped in for Condit earlier this month, owns an impressive submission game, which has proven to be an obstacle for Daley. Daley admits that the ground game isn’t his strong point, but that he is training on the ground.
“It would be ignorant of me not to train on the ground,” said Daley. “But I want to keep the fight standing, so I’m training in everything I do to keep the fight standing and avoid the submission game.
“Being a striker, I’m always going to come up against grapplers. Nothing changed much in my game plan or my mindset, I’m always going to try and keep the fight standing and always going to try and knock people out.”
While some may see Hazelett as a step down from an opponent like Condit, Daley was quick to note that he is not overlooking the submission wizard.
“It would be stupid of me to overlook Dustin,” he admitted. “He’s a tough credible guy with great submission skills. I’m just looking at this fight, I’m not looking beyond this fight.”
UFC 108 takes place this Saturday January 2, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. FightLine.com will provide live free coverage of the show this Saturday, as well as all the latest breaking news leading up to the event.