Daley (39-15-2 MMA, 5-2 BMMA), who suffered a second-round submission loss to MacDonald (19-4 MMA, 1-0 BMMA) in May’s Bellator 179 headliner, admits he didn’t quite get the fight he was expecting out of the former UFC title challenger. “Semtex” said he anticipated a more stand-up oriented fight, so when MacDonald dragged him to the mat early on, he was admittedly thrown off.
“I bought into what he was saying a little bit, but with my experience I should have known,” Daley told MMAjunkie. “When I get ready for a fight I try to look at their strengths – and I should have known – but I really thought Rory was going to stand. I just took him a little too lightly. I don’t take too much away from the fight. I wasn’t too disheartened. … I underperformed against a world-class fighter.”Related Rory MacDonald to Paul Daley after Bellator 179 win: 'Who's the quitter now?'
Daley will have the chance to get back on the winning track when he takes on Larkin (18-6 MMA, 0-1 BMMA) at Bellator 183, which goes down Sept. 23 at SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. The main card airs on Spike following prelims streamed on MMAjunkie.
The pair have shared similar fight circuits over the years, dating back to when they both competed under the Strikeforce banner before the organization ceased operations in 2013. Daley said he didn’t mind much business to Larkin, though, mainly because at the time he was fighting in the light heavyweight and middleweight divisions.
With both men now having settled in Bellator’s welterweight division, though, the matchup seemed like a natural fit. Daley, however, said it doesn’t get his blood boiling quite like some of his other recent fights, and that’s partially due to skillset.
“Obviously I’ve seen him compete in other promotions, but he wasn’t really a guy I ever thought I would fight until he signed with Bellator,” Daley said. “I wasn’t too interested in him. I know there was a whole big thing about who was going to sign him when he became a free agent, but I really didn’t give a (expletive). He’s not that interesting of a fighter to me. I’m not really phased by the name or the fact he’s beaten this guy or held a ranking. He’s below the level of fighter that I’m used to fighting.”
Larkin is primarily a striker, and along with Daley the pair have 40 knockouts in a combined 57 career victories. Daley said he hopes Larkin will test his striking skills in the bout, because few are willing to do as much.Related Bellator NYC highlights: Champ Douglas Lima spoils Lorenz Larkin's Bellator debut
“He’s a stand-up guy, and I really hope it stays standing up,” Daley said. “I legitimately think anyone who generally stays on the feet with me will lose the fight. They will lose by KO. The one person that’s beat me on the feet was Nick Diaz. The only person who has legitimately beat me standing up, didn’t go for a takedown or didn’t do anything other than want to trade with me, is Nick Diaz. No one else has beat me standing on the feet. The same will go with Lorenz Larkin. If he stays standing on the feet with me, he will lose. He will lose for sure.”
At 34, Daley said he’s keen on making another run toward the Bellator welterweight title, which is currently held by Douglas Lima (29-6 MMA, 11-2 BMMA). “The Phenom” beat Daley by unanimous decision in a non-title bout at Bellator 158 in July 2016, and since has gone on to capture the gold.
Lima’s first tile defense came against Larkin at Bellator NYC in June. It was a relatively one-sided fight in which Daley said he wasn’t all that impressed by the challenger, and he said Larkin will have to step up his game if he wants to win at Bellator 183.
Although Larkin is the No. 8 fighter in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA welterweight rankings, Daley said there’s nothing about “The Monsoon” that instills fear in him. He believes a one-sided victory is coming his way if the fight stays standing, but even if Larkin attempts to mix things up and grapple or wrestle, Daley said there’s nothing that will stop him from the knockout.
“It’s going to be a bad night for Lorenz, trust me on that,” Daley said. “I don’t give a (expletive) if he’s fought at middleweight or whatever weight. I’ve knocked bigger guys out my whole career, and he’s just going to be another one of those if he chooses to keep it standing. … Either way the end will come. He’s not the toughest guy that I’ve fought. His wrestling isn’t saying too much. His ground game I’m not giving him in the fight. Aand his stand-up, I’m not too intimidated by it. I just hope he fights the way he’s fought in his career, and we’ll see what goes down.”
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