This interview has just made me a fan, should be a wild fight.
Paul Daley subtly let the cat out of the bag about who his next opponent will be, as he recently posted on his Facebook page that he was, "... Ready to kick one Fraggle haired customers a**." Daley (23-8-2), the hard-hitting British fighter who is now 2-0 inside the Octagon, didn't name names, but most assumed he was referring to Josh Koscheck (14-4).
MMA Fighting spoke to the confident Daley about the status of his fight against Koscheck, why he wants to fight him so badly, and the continued criticism of his ground game. The full interview is below.
Ariel Helwani: I'm assuming you were referring to Josh Koscheck when you wrote that comment about your next opponent on Facebook, right?
Paul Daley: Yeah, it's Koscheck. I've said I want Koscheck. I'm so serious about this -- I want Koscheck. Koscheck isn't asking for me; I'm waiting for him. He had an injury -- this is his first time back in the gym this week. I could have taken a different fight, but I'm waiting for him. I feel like I have something to prove not only to the UFC but to all the chumps on the Internet that talk sh*t and say, 'Daley's got no ground game; Daley's got no takedown defense.' Whatever. I want to see what their excuse is going to be after I knock Koscheck out.
First, it's, 'Daley can't fight jiu-jitsu fighters; he's going to get subbed by Hazelett.' Hazelet gets knocked out. [Prior to that,] 'Kampmann's too much of an all-arounder; Daley's going to lose by whatever Kampmann wants.' Kampmann gets knocked out. I've always been proving doubters wrong away from the UFC, and now it's time to shut a few more mouths up.
Any updates on the status of the fight?
No updates. We're juggling around a few dates at the moment. There's a few possibilities: I've heard quite a few things about April being a possible date in Abu Dhabi, [also] about possibly doing the first UK Fight Night here over in my hometown in Nottingham. I've heard May in Canada ... You know, I've heard a lot, but it's going to happen in the next few months if Fraggle Rock signs.
Do you have a preference?
I don't mind, man.
You don't care?
Nope. That Fraggle is definitely going to get rocked.
I feel compelled to ask your feelings on his hair.
Dude's a fraggle and he should really do something about that. Seriously. I know a good barber over here in Nottingham, if he wants me to sort him up.
Why do you want to fight Koscheck so badly?
Because he's been a contender and he's worked his way back to being a contender again. I think it's just a fight that shows that I'm ready to be talked about for a championship title fight. I've fought the all-arounder Kampmann, I've fought the jiu-jitsu guy in Hazelett, I'm fighting the high-level wrestler in Koscheck. I think the only thing that's left is to fight a high-level striker like Thiago Alves and then a title shot.
So if you get passed Koscheck, Alves would be next on your checklist, right?
Or anybody else who is deemed to be a top striker in the division. I know Fitch has been out in Thailand doing his bit out there, even though he's got his wrestling background. But I think Alves is the only striker within title contention that makes sense. You've got your Chris Lytles, your Marcus Davis, your Amir Sadollahs -- all great strikers -- but none of them are really being talked about as a possible future opponent for GSP.
Koscheck has said some things in the past about your friend and training partner, Dan Hardy. Is that one of the reasons why you want to fight him?
Not really. I think Koscheck is just playing up to a character that he's built and he's just going with it. People didn't like him to start off, so he was like, 'What the heck, I might as well ride with that. I'm going to continue to play the bad guy.' It's doing him good. I think he's a cool guy. I was in the changing room with him before the Kampmann fight, and he didn't say too much. I saw him backstage before the Hazelett fight. I said hello, he said hello. You know, I respect him and I respect what he's tried to do in order to promote himself, but his time's up.
What did you think of his performance against Anthony Johnson at UFC 106?
I didn't think the finger went to the eye, but I thought Koscheck fought a great fight. He switched it up when he wasn't having much success doing what he was doing. He was unpredictable, and I think worked out for him.
So you think he faked the eye injury?
Yeah, of course he faked it. The finger didn't go nowhere near the eye.
Why do you think he would do that?
I don't know. I don't know him as a guy. But for me, I've fought with broken limbs, dislocated joints, you know, blood gushing out of my head. I think he was looking for an easy night, an easy pay day. Maybe he didn't train too hard for the fight.
Back to the your most recent fight, was there anything you did or didn't do against Hazelett that you weren't happy with?
No, I think I did everything pretty much according to plan. I was patient; I waited for the right opportunity to strike, and when I struck, it was devastating. If you ask my coaches in the UK and Holland, that was my exact game plan.
Some of said that you didn't deserve the UFC 108 Knockout of the Night award because you missed weight, and as I'm sure you know, Dana White said that Anthony Johnson didn't win the award at UFC 104 because he missed weight. How do you respond to that?
It's not the fact that I missed weight. It's the fact that the doctor didn't allow me to make the weight. I would have made the weight; the doctor just didn't allow me to do it. So I think that's the difference between me and Anthony Johnson.
Are people starting to recognize you more in Nottingham now that you're doing so well in the UFC?
Yeah and no. The hard core MMA fans, they've always been supportive of me. Just now my friends and family get to see more of me on TV, so yeah, it's nice.
A lot of people believe things will turn out a little differently for you when you face a top wrestler. Are you just sitting back and laughing at all of this criticism while you continue to do will in the UFC?
Yeah, I'm just chilling. I haven't got much to say, you know. I've got a few good people who are going to be in camp with me for this fight and I think I got better wrestlers than Koscheck's working with me and I think that my takedown defense is not as bad as people think. So it's not a matter of me doing an intensive three weeks of trying to get better takedown defense because I have decent takedown defense already. It's just a matter or working with better fighters and wrestlers who are going to build my game up. You know, I have great guys with me now: I have Kenny Johnson, BJ Penn's coach. I have "King Mo," whose coming over to Holland with me to work out with me. Guys like Gunnar Nelson are going to be in camp, you know, a Renzo Gracie black belt and an ADCC fighter. As well as the regular guys at Rough House and Melvin Manhoef and the guys over at Mike's Gym. So I have better training than Koscheck with better guys. Koscheck is just another head for me to take off. It's nothing. Really, it's nothing. That's the way I look at it. People always mock my confidence, but I have a funny way of proving people wrong