After nearly 20 years in the game, Paul Daley said his next fight will be his last.
While he didn’t reveal an opponent, Daley (43-18-2 MMA, 9-5 BMMA) said Bellator’s May 13 event in London will be his retirement fight – in front of his home fans in the U.K.
“May 13 will be last one,” Daley said Monday on “The MMA Hour.” “It will be my retirement fight after many years in the game – the hours on the road, the hours in the gym have caught up with me. And now every day, I wake up with a bad back and I’m just tired. Most definitely (I’ll retire). I’ve put a lot of time in the sport, and I’m in a position to retire, fortunately. … I don’t want to be one of those fighters who’s getting knocked out all the time by the younger guys. I want to be the guy that goes out when I want to go out.”
Daley has been with Bellator for the past seven years and has gone 8-5 in that stretch. His losses in the promotion have been to Bellator’s elite-level welterweights: Former champions Douglas Lima and Rory MacDonald, former WSOF champ Jon Fitch and upcoming title challenger Michael Page, as well as Jason Jackson.
He’ll be 39 when he steps in the cage for the last time and said his retirement was supposed to be sooner.
“I’ve been planning for it for a long time,” Daley said. “I’ve had a lot of fights. Bellator has treated me well while I’ve been there, and I always knew it was going to be my last promotion. I’ve put things in place so that when I do call it a day, I can do so comfortably.
“(Sabah) Homasi was going to be my last fight, but Bellator put it in America and I don’t think the U.K. at the time was allowing shows … Then they offered Jason Jackson with title implications, so I took that fight and that didn’t go my way. I owe it to my fans and my family to have this last fight over here in the U.K.”
Daley made his pro debut in 2003. He mostly fought in England until 2007, when he deuted with Strikeforce. From that point on, more of his fights were in North America than England.
He signed with the UFC in 2009 and after knockouts of Martin Kampmann and Dustin Hazelett, he fought Josh Koscheck at UFC 113 in Montreal in a title eliminator. After he lost a decision, there was an in-cage altercation with Koscheck in which he hit him after the bell. UFC president Dana White said Daley never would fight in the UFC again.
After a one-off with Bellator in 2012, he moved to the promotion long-term in 2015.