A few days after being released from Bellator, Paul Daley is pushing for a return to the UFC Octagon.
"I want to be back with the UFC," Daley said Monday on The MMA Hour broadcast. "It would be a dream come true to be back with the UFC. The things that I did say bad about the UFC, it was like what most fighters would do if they weren’t in the best organization in the world. You don't want to be No. 2, you want to be No. 1."
Bellator cut ties with the British welterweight, along with middleweight Maiquel Falcao, last Thursday because of issues away from the cage.
In Daley's case, those issues stem from an old assault case that is making it difficult for Daley to obtain a visa. Though it appeared those issues were resolved in June, Bellator apparently believed that logistical challenges remained and chose to release Daley.
Daley (33-12-2) was cut and unofficially banned from the UFC following a 2010 loss to Josh Koscheck. After the fight's conclusion, Daley sucker-punched Koscheck, prompting UFC president Dana White to say at the time that Daley "will not fight in the UFC again." In 2011, White backed away from that stance somewhat, though maintained his reluctance to bring Daley back into the fold.
Daley, 30, certainly knows how to please a crowd, both inside a cage (where he has 23 knockout wins to his name) and behind a mic, where he is naturally funny and a walking soundbite. Daley's supporters have been lobbying hard for his return to the UFC. To date, the UFC has not indicated whether they have any interest in Daley.
Even if a UFC return does not occur, Daley could find a soft landing in Great Britain's Cage Warriors promotion, which could make a major fight between Daley and current welterweight champ and UFC hopeful Cathal Pendred.