Paul Daley says he was unjustly penalized in his fight with Bellator favorite Michael Page, following his loss by unanimous decision at Bellator 216, MMA Junkie reports.
The headlining fight came after years of bad blood between the two fighters, though the fight itself was largely seen as underwhelming, with Page's victory finally delivered from the judging table in what Daley considered to be a politically motivated decision.
Daley took to Instagram to make his case after the fight.
"I'm disappointed, MMA politics and Bellator protecting they're [sic] investment. I feel I won 3 rounds to 2. IMO I beat that fool. Really. Close fight. It's just sad MMA is going the way of Boxing. I'm a 'striker' who wrestled so I lose, and the fool they pumped money into wins," he posted.
Exacerbating Daley's frustration was Page's dismissive remarks in the post-fight press conference, where he showed little respect for the fighter and suggested that it was time for him to retire.
Page also cited the recent death of his father as a contributing factor in what he considered to be a less-than-convincing performance in the cage.
"I made a lot of mistakes myself. But at the same time, I told you guys he was a b****," Page said after the fight. "He talked all this stuff about being able to knock me out, and he ran the whole first round. And then all he wanted to do was play ground work – play wrestling."
By all accounts, it was a fight that could have gone either way with Page earning three 48-47 scores in a five-round decision that could have easily gone against him had he not turned things around following a fifth-round takedown by Daley. Daley picked up the other two rounds thanks to leaning heavily on his wrestling, which Page admitted later took him by surprise.
Following his win, Page moves on to a semifinal matchup with Douglas Lima in the ongoing welterweight grand prix tournament.
Despite Page's harsh remarks toward Daley and his suggestion that retirement could be in order, Page did suggest that the two could meet again, likely in England, to do battle again some time after Bellator 216.This isn't the first time Daley has criticized Bellator leadership, in particular President Scott Coker. Last year, Daley requested his release from Bellator altogether, citing a lack of respect from Coker. Following discussions with Daley, Coker had expressed confidence that the disconnect had been patched up, with the two committing to better communication regarding Daley's career with the promotion.