There was no other way for Paul Daley to go out.
The 39-year-old pioneer of U.K. MMA authored a fitting comeback for his retirement fight on Friday at Bellator 281, storming back from an early deficit to demolish Wendell Giacomo with a flurry of blows near the end of the second round. In a brutal final sequence, Daley unleashed with punch after punch as Giacomo’s back was trapped against the fence, before finally dropping the Brazilian with a hook to the body followed by two more powerful hooks upstairs that sent his hometown London crowd into a frenzy.
The finish sent Daley off into the sunset with the 35th knockout win of an MMA career that began in 2003 and spanned multiple eras and major promotions. Daley has teased that his time in combat sports may not be over, but his MMA chapter is done after a 19-year run.
Reaction from the MMA world to Daley’s career-capping performance can be read below.
— BellatorMMA (@BellatorMMA) May 13, 2022
Helluva career Paul Daly, not many get to go out like that
Retirement well and truly earned
— Paul Redmond (@RedserMma) May 13, 2022
— Raymond Daniels (@RD_GOAT) May 13, 2022
Paul Daley is a true UK MMA legend. I am forever a fan
— Brendan Loughnane (@BrendanMMA) May 13, 2022
Respect to Paul Daley wild KO power and that one round with nick Diaz will always be one of the best rounds ever!
— Billy Quarantillo (@BillyQMMA) May 13, 2022
Legend, big man
— Dudu Dantas (@DuduDantasMMA) May 13, 2022
— Scott Coker (@ScottCoker) May 13, 2022
— Gray Maynard (@GrayMaynard) May 13, 2022
What a way to ride off into the sunset for Semtex https://t.co/ze37A39db6
— Jack ‘Tank’ Shore (@jackshoremma) May 13, 2022
It’s a tough loss but he’ll learn and improve from it. I’m proud of you @WendellGiacomo! Congrats to Daley on his career and win, but Wendell’s story is yet to get started, I’ll see him wear gold @BellatorMMA #BellatorLondon
— Patricio Pitbull (@PatricioPitbull) May 13, 2022