British slugger Paul Daley (25-9-2 MMA, 0-0 SF) has a new name for the post-fight suckerpunch of Josh Koscheck that led to his release from the UFC: "the incident."
But seven months after the unfortunate display of poor sportsmanship, the often brash Daley insists he's moved beyond the emotion-filled antics of his previous contests.
Instead, as Daley completes his preparation for an upcoming bout with fellow striker Scott Smith (17-7 MMA, 3-2 SF) at next weekend's "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu" event, the knockout artist said he's walking into the cage both humbled and respectful of his foe.
"I'm happy to be competing with such a great promotion, and I'm thankful they gave me such a big fight to start with," Daley said. "I normally rise to the big occasion, and Scott Smith is a big deal, so I'm looking forward to the fight."
The fight is Daley's third since "the incident." He traveled to Australia in July and earned a win over Daniel Acacio before edging out Jorge Masvidal via decision under the Shark Fights banner in September. But now, it's back to the national stage at the Showtime-broadcast event.
The opportunity isn't lost on Daley.
"I'm happy to be with Strikeforce," Daley told MMAjunkie.com (UFC blog for UFC news, UFC rumors, fighter interviews and event previews/recaps | MMAjunkie.com
). "I was approached by a few promotions after the incident. Strikeforce is a great promotion. I had fought there before with EliteXC, so I knew it was a professional outfit, and they knew how to conduct themselves professionally.
"There are great fighters here. They seem to be putting on awesome shows. The matchmaking is great, and I just want to be part of an exciting promotion."
With 18 wins by knockout to his credit, Daley's striking prowess is well-documented. But Smith also owns 14 career knockouts, and Daley says he's long been a fan of "Hands of Steel."
"Scott is one of the guys that I used to watch back in the day," Daley said. "He's game all the time. He comes out, and he fights. He's got that attitude that I admire. You know when he's going to be in a fight, it's going to be an exciting fight. The dude knocks people out.
"He's a man after my own heart. He likes to go in there and leave people lying on the floor receiving oxygen. It's going to be a great fight. I've trained really hard for the fight, and I'm expecting to be a short but exciting fight."
But "the incident" isn't the only challenge Daley's has faced in recent bouts. The Brit has missed weight in two of his past four fights leading some MMA observers to question his dedication to training.
Daley said things are different now.
"The times I was missing weight, I think I was just being a bit naive with when I should be starting to do things correctly in regards to my diet and thinking I could get down 170 in a certain amount of time when I know I should be doing it way earlier," Daley admitted. "This time, I've done that. My weight is down. Everything has gone pretty well."
With a fan-friendly style, Daley's strike-first mentality often produces fireworks. While Daley has struggled in the past with elite-level grapplers, Smith should provide the perfect opponent in his official Strikeforce debut.
And while Daley wore out his welcome after just three fights in the UFC, "Semtex" hopes to start a long, successful run with Strikeforce.
"I'm not here to make excuses," Daley said. "I'm here to be a professional, and this time I've done things much better.
"I just want to take the biggest names Strikeforce has en route to the title or the people I think are going to present me with the most challenge."