Paul Daley explains why he backtracked on retirement talks ahead of Bellator 260

Paul Daley has said this love for the martial arts kept him in MMA, despite saying that he was considering retirement last year.

The Nottingham fighter is ranked number 6 in the Bellator welterweight division, and faces number 3 contender Jason Jackson on Friday night with champion Douglas Lima defending his belt in the main event.

And despite having gold constantly elude him throughout his career, Daley does believe that a potential title fight is possible if he keeps winning against top contenders.

Speaking exclusively with Mirror Fighting ahead of Bellator 260, the former UFC and Strikeforce fighter said that he could fight on for as long as there is interest.

"I just enjoy it, you know, the training is really enjoyable at the moment," Daley said when asked why he decided to continue on with fighting.

"There was a point, especially with covid it was dragging but I've got a new coach and I'm rejuvenated.

"I just like martial arts, I like competing, and if you knew me properly you wouldn't be surprised that I'm still fighting, I've been training the martial arts since I was seven-years-old.

"I'm a martial artist at heart, I'm not only a fighter."

Jackson provides Daley an opportunity to climb one step closer to another title fight, but will be a tough ask having recently dispatched of Neiman Gracie and former UFC champion Benson Henderson.

"He's ranked higher than me, and it's interesting because this matchup was made before and at the time I was pretty dismissive of the fight," Daley continued.

"But he's gotten a lot better, now it's a fight that I'm really looking forward to. He's generally a more all-round fighter with great composure, straight shots, a good takedown defence, good on top and he can trip well in the clinch."

Daley expects to stick around at his catchweight of 175 lbs, four more than the welterweight limit allows, but would entertain cutting the extra few for a title opportunity.

"I love the weight of 175 lbs, Scott Coker has said he can see why I'd want to compete here because I'm looking really good and feeling comfortable.

"I'll fight as often as I can, when I was a free agent at one stage I fought 12 times in 18 months, and I think I could do that again to be honest."

Elsewhere on the card, Birmingham Aiden Lee takes on wrestling standout and number six ranked prospect Aaron Pico in a featherweight clash with massive implications.

"Aaron Pico is a bit of a poster boy for Bellator," Lee told Mirror Fighting ahead of the bout. "But once I beat him, it's going to add so much more to my hype.

"He's a good, high level fighter, great skills on the feet and wrestling but I'm equally high level and I am ready to smash this guy.

"This is a big opportunity for me, my first fight in America, it's on the main card and there are fans back so I'm excited to rise to the occasion."

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

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