For 63 fights across nearly two decades, Paul “Semtex” Daley has been one of mixed martial arts most entertaining fighters. Daley turned in one final classic performance in his retirement fight at Bellator 281 on Friday evening, coming back from having been grounded for nearly the entirety of two rounds to score a massive knockout of Wendell Giacomo.
Daley, who debuted in the sport in June 2003, has fought in Strikeforce, EliteXC, UFC, Bellator and a host of other promotions, entered the event saying the fight, his 64th, would be the last of his career.
Things did not go well for Daley from the opening moments as Giacomo was able to close the distance and score takedowns, holding Daley on the ground where his trademark power could not come into play. That included late in Round 1, when Giacomo went for a series of leg locks, including a heel hook that seemed close to finishing the fight.
Daley survived the round, however, and had a chance to start on the feet again as Round 2 began.
Giacomo again was able to quickly drag the fight to the floor before taking Daley’s back. Daley remained calm before exploding to reverse position. As he stood and Giacomo attempted to follow him to the feet, Daley unloaded with a left hand that hurt Giacomo and sent him back to the cage.
Sensing blood in the water, Daley unloaded with a flurry that ended with one of his trademark hooks connecting clean to Giacomo’s jaw, sending him crashing to the canvas, giving Daley his 35th knockout in 44 career wins, and a perfect note to close his career.
“He’s a tough guy,” Daley said after his victory. “In MMA nowadays you can’t overlook any opponent. Everyone is so good, the sport has evolved so much. … I wasn’t here to quit tonight, I was here to knock someone out.”