Paul Daley: Fighting for More Then Respect at UFC 108

Erik FontanezCorrespondent IDecember 29, 2009

According to , the word “semtex” can be defined as: a noun, a plastic explosive that is easily tractable and almost odorless, used esp. by terrorists.

Seasoned welterweight Paul “Semtex” Daley looks to rein his brand of terror on the UFC’s 170-pound division with a win against Dustin Hazelett at UFC 108.

With a record of (22-8-2, 1-0 UFC), Daley brings a wealth of experience to the octagon.  However, with the mileage he’s put on in his career, the British mixed martial artist still seeks the level of respect that comes with being a top tier welterweight.

The one and only win Daley has collected in the octagon came by way of TKO against highly regarded veteran Martin Kampman at UFC 103. The victory etched another step towards legitimacy in the world’s most popular MMA organization, but there are still many obstacles for Daley to overcome in order to be considered in the same conversation as GSP, Josh Koscheck and Thiago Alves.

The lack of a quality ground game is Daley’s biggest hurdle. Five of his eight losses have come by way of submission, which gives an indication that, even after six years of professional fighting, Daley has yet to consistently avoid getting into trouble on the canvas floor.

Against an opponent the calibar of Dustin Hazelett, Daley finds himself in a precarious position since "McLovin's" forte is a remarkable jiu-jitsu arsenal.

This won’t be the first time “Semtex” has taken on a dangerous ground expert. Strikeforce middleweight champ Jake Shields has locked horns with Daley before. The outcome is not included on Daley's highlight reel.

The 2008 bout ended with Daley succumbing to an armbar from the ground specialist Shields. Not to take away from Jake’s ability, but if Paul Daley is to make some noise in a division headed by Georges St. Pierre , then he has to make sure his wrestling and jiu-jitsu is up to par or better than that of Shields.

Leaving himself exposed to fighters like Shields tells a tale of not being prepared for the world’s best ground experts. For Daley, upper echelon residency will require a great deal of work on his jiu-jitsu. Being dominated on the ground with little or no hope of winning a grappling battle does not bold well for contendership in the UFC ranks.

The one thing working regularly for Daley is his aggressive stand up. 

As previously mentioned, Martin Kampman learned first hand (and foot) what a devastating striker Paul Daley can be. Picked as a replacement for Mike Swick, Daley came out against the Xtreme Couture trained fighter and picked him apart like he said something less than charming about his mum.

For Daley, the key to gaining  respect from Hazelett is preventing the fight from going to the ground. Hazelett will be in a perfect setting if he finds himself grappling with the Muay Thai specialist.

Hazelett, not known for the power in his punch, can lose this fight fast and easy if Daley prevents any and all takedown attempts. 

Preventing a ground battle could be easier than expected for Daley. At 170 pounds, Daley is incredibly strong and can manhandle a great deal of fighters in the weight class. As simple as it is, he will have to out muscle Hazelett if the two are ever in close quarters. Two and three strikes later, Daley can walk out of Vegas with a UFC win bonus.

Looking beyond Hazelett, a win for Daley can spell a potential title shot in 2010. 

One more win over a quality opponent the likes of a Josh Koscheck or Paulo Thiago can put him in line, not only to take to the cage with Georges St. Pierre, but also garner the respect of his counterparts in the UFC’s welterweight roster.

The Melvin Manhoef-esque explosiveness that Daley carries in his stand up sells to a lot of casual MMA fans.

Watching him unload on an unwilling Dustin Hazelett will surely put a stamp on him as an assassin at 170. It would become two in a row for Daley and solidify the attention of the UFC brass. Things will start to take shape for the British striker and every round he has put in up to this point will be well worth it.

Explosive hands lead to cage-wide devastation, so “best respects the semtex.” Look for Paul Daley to prove himself a contender when he steps into the octagon this Saturday, Jan. 2 at UFC 108. 

Something is bound to explode.