Daley must start showing remorse

Daley must start showing remorse

Published Apr. 7, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

One of the biggest stories coming out of the Strikeforce acquisition by Zuffa has been that of Paul “Semtex” Daley. His after-fight cheap shot of Josh Koscheck led to his dismissal and his status as the best welterweight not under the Zuffa banner besides Nick Diaz.

With the Strikeforce acquisition the question becomes: “How does the UFC handle Paul Daley?” in light of Dana White’s vow for him to never return to the UFC. But the question should be this:

“What has Paul Daley done to deserve to be back in the UFC besides fight?”

Lifetime bans are rarely that in the UFC, as plenty of fighters have gone from that status to back in the Octagon, but there’s something about Daley’s that makes one think it’ll stick for a while. It’s mainly because he hasn’t shown any remorse, or even given a half-hearted apology for the cheap shot.


That’s what gets lost in the debate on whether Daley should be “allowed” back in the UFC. We can debate his skill and his ranking amongst the best welterweights in the world, which he surely has to be considered among, but for all the victories in the world he hasn’t done anything to show that he’s remorseful and regretful about what he did.

Or at least pretend to do so.

That’s the crux of it. It doesn’t matter how many guys he knocks out and how many titles from other organizations he wins. He’ll never be back in MMA’s proving grounds without at least going through the motions. If Daley wanted to be back in the UFC and make more than a “decent” wage he’d have done a handful of things to show it. He hasn’t done anything but try and become the newest “bad boy of MMA” who refuses to play with the big, bad UFC.

It’s a tough career gambit, mainly because the best competition is in the UFC, but in the short term it’ll be successful if he keeps winning. After a while he’ll never be known as anything more than an outlier who hasn’t faced top competition in the same way Josh Barnett, et al, have over the years. He’ll be ranked based on reputation as opposed to quality of competition, most likely, and that all depends on his continued undefeated streak.

Once he loses a couple times to lesser competition his ability to be a known commodity sinks even more. Losing to Nick Diaz won’t be the end of the world, far from it, but it won’t help his cause. But even if he wins the Strikeforce title from Diaz, which is definitely possible, it’ll still be an uphill battle to gain a spot on the ever crowded UFC roster. Why? Because he hasn’t shown he deserves one. And that’s the key to “sports redemption.”

In sports people get the benefit of the doubt, most times, as long as they try to pretend that they feel bad about what they did. We forgive people who at least walk through the motions when they’ve done wrong. We don’t forgive people who won’t acknowledge what they’ve done as wrong and at least pretend to acknowledge that. It’s one of those universal rules in the world of sport that has never really been uttered: admit it when you did wrong. And make amends.

That’s the main problem with Daley and why he’ll probably never end up back on a UFC card. If he was serious about getting back there, of giving Dana White and company reason to reconsider, he’d have done more than just act nonchalant about a sucker punch after spending 15 minutes in a cage with Josh Koscheck. He’d have given a long, detailed apology to everyone involved afterwards to show his remorse. He’d have taken anger management courses or seen a sports psychologist to “work on the problem.” After a while it’d be brushed aside, there’d be an announcement that he’s coming back and we’d get the requisite “he’s a changed man” speeches from all involved.

The argument would be “he’s shown remorse, what else can you expect from the guy?” as opposed to the lame arguments that come out now. Even if it was half-assed like Brock Lesnar’s apology after UFC 100, people would’ve at least given the guy the benefit of the doubt on any number of levels. But he hasn’t, not in any aspect. If he’s looking for an “honest opinion” from Dana White about his dislike, maybe it’s because he violated the unwritten rule of sport to leave it during the confines of the event. People tend to dislike those without that basic courtesy as an athlete.