England’s Paul Daley looks to fight his way to another Strikeforce title shot

Love him or hate him, Paul (Semtex) Daley rarely fails to put on a show when he enters the cage.

The brash English welterweight has 39 bouts under his belt, with only eight going to a decision. When Daley fights, it’s usually lights out for somebody.

Daley (27-10-2) takes on Tyron Woodley on Saturday night on the undercard of the Fedor Emelianenko-Dan Henderson fight at the Sears Center in suburban Chicago.

Last time out Daley was involved in a slugfest with then Strikeforce champion Nick Diaz. Both men were in trouble at different times of the fight but Diaz prevailed and eventually won by TKO with three seconds left in a wild first round.

“It was crazy . . . it was a lot to fit in four minutes 57 seconds,” said Daley.

There is plenty at stake for Daley on Saturday in that Diaz has given up the Strikeforce title so he can challenge Canadian Georges St-Pierre for the UFC championship in October.

A win and Daley would be in prime position to contend for the vacant Strikeforce title, possibly against the winner of Scott Smith-Tarec Saffiedeine fight also on Saturday’s card.

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While Daley recognizes that his April loss to Diaz was a popular scrap with the fans, it’s not one of his personal favourites. He didn’t win and reckons he did not perform to his potential.

“I think the fans just enjoyed the excitement. It was a bit of an old-school Wanderlei-type brawl you used to see back in the Pride days,” he said, referencing Wanderlei (The Axe Murderer) Silva.

The fight was all-action with both men suffering knockdowns.

According to FightMetric, Diaz landed 44 significant strikes – that’s one ever seven seconds – and connected on 65 of 103 strike attempts. Daley connected on 20 significant strikes (he was good on 26 of 69 total strikes).

“It made for a wonderful and entertaining fight,” Daley said. “I’m just happy the fans were entertained, to be honest with you. I’ve had nothing but great feedback.

“Obviously I wanted to be the champion but I gave Nick Diaz a lot of respect as a fighter coming into the fight. I was an admirer of the fact that he does come to fight.

“I think a different ref on a different day, it could have gone any way. But he came off better this time. It was that close of a round. … It would have been nice for me and the fans to go into the second round but we didn’t have that luxury.”

Daley, 28, was originally slated to fight Evangelista Santos on Saturday but the Brazilian was forced out due to injury. Enter Woodley, a former all-American wrestler at the University of Missouri who has won all eight of his MMA fights including six in Strikeforce.

Woodley comes from a good camp in Florida’s American Top Team.

“I know a few of the guys at American Top Team so I kind of know what he’s capable of and what he’s not capable off,” said Daley.

The English fighter is 4-1 since he was cut by the UFC in the wake of a loss to Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 in Montreal in May 2010.

A frustrated Daley lashed out after the bell and caught Koscheck with a sucker-punch. UFC president Dana White promptly released him.

Daley agrees the incident didn’t do much for his image but says there’s more to him that what happened that night.

“Yeah I do get a bad rap but I don’t blame those people for their opinions because they can only hear it one way. They’ve never met me, they’re not able to draw their own opinions on me so they only know what other people tell him.

“But you’ll find nine times out of ten, people that actually meet me, socialize with me, train with me, are actually very shocked at the type of individual that I am. I’m really much more different than people expect.”

Daley signed with Strikeforce, only to find himself under the Zuffa banner again when the UFC’s parent company bought Strikeforce.

Daley would welcome another UFC shot but says he has enjoyed his time in Strikeforce.

“I’m just happy to fight, to be honest with you. I’m happy to be able to wake up in the morning in my own house and be able to pay my bills and go to training and do a job that I loved doing. At this present point in time, it’s just Strikeforce.

“They treat me good. (CEO) Scott Coker’s been a cool guy. Since the UFC’s taken over, things haven’t changed that much,. As long as things stay as they are, I’m more than happy to continue fighting for Strikeforce as long as they want me to.”