Paul “Semtex” Daley loves to play games, ones that screw with your mind in addition to testing your MMA IQ. The theme of two of his challenges was his UFC 113 opponent, Josh Koscheck.
The first is a trivia question: “For 10 points: Name that clown with the stupid hair who is the only guy to ever get KTFO by Paulo Thiago?” Daley wrote in his UFC.com blog.
He was only getting warmed up. After all, Semtex is a plastic explosive requiring technique and crafting before detonation. It’s not that Koscheck is an innocent victim. He thrives on being an irritant and rubbing others the wrong way. He was one of The Ultimate Fighter’s original naughty apples. He dissed Dan Hardy’s merit as the top welterweight contender. He expected to be George St. Pierre’s next challenger, anticipated a chance to avenge a unanimous decision loss in August 2007. He was offered Daley and accepted it with a shrug, later saying he’s one-dimensional and will stand toe-to-toe with the feared striker.
The fuse was lit. Daley branded Koscheck a Fraggle, using his blond mop as inspiration to an unflattering comparison to the 1980s Jim Henson-created humanoid creatures with tufted tails and stout beaks. For some fun he set up a PhotoShop contest over The Underground to emulate Koscheck’s hair style.
“I didn’t really expect such a response,” Daley said during a conference call promoting UFC 113. “For whatever reason people like to latch on to the fact that Koscheck’s eye’s a little [expletive] up and he looks a little bit like a Fraggle. I can’t help it if he’s got [expletive] eyes and he looks a bit like a Fraggle. Josh Koscheck is quite naïve.”
Koscheck is comfortable in his own skin – and with his hairstyle – and his confidence is admirable, but he may want to think twice about making this a standup war. Daley has needed a combined four minutes and 55 seconds to win his first two UFC fights. His Octagon debut, a destruction of Martin Kampmann in 2:31, made him one of only nine UFC fighters to earn a TKO win over a fighter still standing. His last four MMA bouts have ended inside of one round, 18 of his 23 victories have come via knockout or TKO and he’s gone the distance only once in his past 13.
“Just look at my track record,” Daley said. “If Koscheck wants to trade I’ll do that all day. It will be a short, sweet fight if that is the case.”
Only four of Koscheck’s 14 wins have come by knockout. He excelled in wrestling while competing at Edinboro University, earning four All-American honors and going 42-0 his junior year en route to the Division I National Championship at 174 pounds. Daley’s still considered a neophyte on the ground, so the past 18 months he assembled a team of elite specialists, including Olympic-level wrestlers who prepped him for his last fight, a two-minute, 24-second smashing of Dustin Hazelett. His intention is to break the perception he cannot hack it against a wrestler and went Rated X to make his point.
“While Josh was wrestling in college and on the corner,” said Daley using sexual overtones, “I was fighting UFC veterans in Cage Rage. I’m quite honest where my strengths lie and my weaknesses were. (UFC president Dana White)’s comments are accurate as such in that we don’t have a great wrestling tradition in the U.K,. but being in MMA, I’ve been able to train with a lot of great wrestlers. I train continually.”
A win over Koscheck by any means necessary could earn Daley a shot at St. Pierre, a champion who’s great at everything. Even with the high stakes Daley knows but one way to finish a fight: Bodies must crash and broken bones earn brownie points. Hatred for the person across the Octagon may create detonation bordering on nuclear.
“He doesn’t know what is in store for him [Saturday night[,” Daley said. “He’s in so deep. He can talk about my style all he wants, but he’s just a guy who no one likes. I’m going to knock Koscheck out, that’s it. Plain and simple.”