Paul "Semtex" Daley vs. Michael "Venom" Page. Literally years in the making, the fight -- scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 16 -- is arguably the biggest in U.K. MMA history. But it won't take place anywhere in the United Kingdom. Instead, Bellator decided to place it in Uncasville, Connecticut.
It's understandable from a business point of view. This bout serves as one of the quarterfinals of the Bellator Welterweight World Grand Prix, which will be exclusively broadcast stateside on the promotion's broadcast partner DAZN. But it's still less than ideal for at least one half of the main event.
"I would have preferred the fight be in the U.K., for fans, family and friends," Daley told ESPN. "I'm comfortable in the U.S. I feel most of my career has taken place there."
Pitting two of the best strikers at 170 pounds seems like a no-brainer, and the extra spice of a two-year buildup will certainly help the promotion's marketing efforts. For Daley, a former UFC and Strikeforce contender, the opportunity to get a win over his rival en route to earning a title in Bellator is a real incentive.
"It's been a long time coming," Daley said. "It's a great setting for us both -- I mean, being part of the welterweight tournament. It's a great matchup."
Daley (40-16-2) will be just a few days shy of his 36th birthday on fight night. With a pro record including 58 MMA bouts, the veteran from Nottingham, England, has seen and done it all. He may have allowed his emotions to get the better of him in the past, but said he won't let himself get caught up in any of the prefight hullabaloo with Page (13-0) this time around.
"I mean, I'm an emotional fighter anyway," Daley explained. "I'm not ashamed to admit that. Emotions have an important place in fighting, in my opinion. But for me this fight just feels like, 'Now's the time.' I'm not really that emotionally charged for this bout, in the way of animosity or that. The emotion, if any, is that of relief. The fight is happening.
"He's a great fighter, extremely talented and unique. It will be a great fight. I look forward to the fight."
Much will be made of the bout's location, with folks in the U.K. perhaps feeling a little burned, but this might not be a one-and-done situation. Daley is open to a rematch regardless of the outcome, if, of course, the price is right.
"I'm not looking to rematches, but money could change that," Daley said.
For someone who has given his fair share of tasty soundbites in the buildup to a fight, Daley now appears to be razor-focused on the task at hand as he attempts to hand the Londoner his first career loss.
"Feb. 16, talking is over," Daley said. "I'm going to knock him out."