Paul Daley challenges Bellator to offer him the fights that will force him to shelve retirement plans

British MMA legend Daley fights at Bellator 260 on Friday (Picture: Getty)

Paul Daley has challenged Bellator to keep feeding him the big names in order to keep his retirement plans on hold.

The Nottingham fighter takes on Jason Jackson in the Bellator 260 co-main event on Friday, the latest step in a sublime career that has seen him fight for the biggest promotions and go to war with some of the biggest names in the game.

Daley was considering calling it a day earlier this year but fought on to register a KO win over Sabah Homasi last month. It prompted a rethink.

Now, the 38-year-old welterweight insists he has the hunger to continue in the cage, confident he is still a level above the younger fighters around him – including his opponent on Friday.

But on the other hand, there is the sense that having already accomplished so much, the challenges ahead must be compelling enough to keep him around.

Daley fights for the 63rd time this week (Picture: Getty)

‘I had been contemplating retirement, Covid-19 had kept me out for a year and it put me a year behind schedule,’ Daley told Metro.co.uk.

‘I’ve been playing catch up and I think it is great being in this division playing catch up because the people I see ahead of me, I know I can run through them, especially with the new rankings. So I am just keen to get involved and stay active and beat these young boys up.

I’m just fighting as every fight comes. Training has been the same as usual, up and down in the way you feel physically and emotionally. But that is nothing different. Thinking about retirement, I just take it as it comes. I feel like I am going to walk through Jason Jackson. Will I retire on the back of that? I could. But I don’t know what is offered to me afterwards.

‘If something attractive was offered to me afterwards then I fight on. If there are no options and the opponents that they offer me aren’t interesting, I will say; ‘Look, I am retired until you give me something interesting.’

Keeping his cards close to his chest, Daley insists there are fights that will keep the fire burning – including the obvious option of a world title shot.

The Nottingham fighter could still retire from the sport this year (Picture: Getty)

In the short-term, the former UFC fighter got his wish of a quick turnaround in fights this summer and hopes Bellator can continue to oblige him.

‘I don’t know if I’m feeling the love from Bellator but I am certainly feeling the love from the UK MMA loyalists and people who might not have known that I’m still competing. And new fans who have caught it on BBC iPlayer.

‘I am feeling that love from the people who have followed me but as far as it coming directly from Bellator… they got me another fight. Which is always a good sign. I asked for one quickly, before July or August and they got it for me. I’m being heard, whether it’s love or not, I feel like I’m being heard at the moment.’

Daley’s immediate focus is on 30-year-old Jackson, who is himself riding a four-win streak that includes victories over Neiman Gracie and former UFC champion Benson Henderson.

With just four KOs/TKOs on the Jamaican’s record however, the Nottingham fighter insists he hasn’t seen the killer instinct in his opponent yet – warning the levels between the two will be exposed on the night.

‘I think I am a bit too much for him, a bit too seasoned, a bit too durable for him,’ Daley said.

‘I will be a shock for him, I don’t think he has fought at the level I have and I don’t think he is at the level I am. I am probably going to knock him out in one or two rounds because he’s just not that guy.

‘He’s improved, he wins fights and he is hard to finish, but if you look at his record, he wins unanimous decisions and split decisions. I smash people. And that’s what I’m going to do to him.

‘There are just different types of fighters. There was Mike Tyson and there was Frank Bruno. Both world champions but both were still at completely different levels at their peak. And that’s the way it is.

‘Jackson is a great fighter and a likeable guy who does everything well. But there is not that ferocity, there is not that killer instinct. There is not that finish in him. And it doesn’t look like its ever going to come.’

Watch Bellator 260: Lima vs. Amosov live on BBC iPlayer from 10:30pm BST on Friday, June 11

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