Bellator MMA continued to branch out into the free agent market Wednesday, signing former UFC, Bellator and BAMMA fighter Paul “Semtex” Daley to a new contract. The news was announced by Daley during an interview with Ariel Helwani earlier today on The MMA Hour. Shortly thereafter, Bellator posted a press release to their website stating that free agent middleweight Melvin Manhoeff had also been signed.
Daley, a welterweight veteran from England most often remembered for sucker-punching Josh Koscheck after their fight at UFC 113, had been signed to Bellator back in 2012, but was released from the promotion due to legal troubles that interfered with him obtaining a VISA. Those legal troubles included an assault charge and two counts of obstructing a police officer. These were charges that Daley plead guilty to, but that, per his interview earlier today with Halwani, he does not believe will be an issue this time around.
The signing is yet another indicator that new Bellator show runner Scott Coker will be looking increasingly to the free agent market, and comes on the heels of the announcement that TNA and former WWE star Bobby Lashley had signed on with the promotion. Coker’s hand in this signing is evident as Daley at one point fought for Coker’s Strikeforce promotion, from 2010 to 2012. While no debut date for Daley has been announced, you can expect him to appear in the Bellator cage sometime in the fall.
Manhoeff, for his part, has fought for numerous MMA promotions over the years, and is also a former kick-boxing champion. Like Daley, he previously fought for Strikeforce.
With few notable names available on the market at the moment, Manhoeff, and especially Daley, are big pickups for North America’s No. 2 MMA promotion. They add some much-needed name recognition to their welterweight and middleweight divisions after the departure of welterweight champion Ben Askren and non-title defeat of middleweight champ Alexander Shlemenko.
Rest assured that the signings aren’t done just yet. Per Coker in today’s Bellator’s press release, “Both Paul and Melvin add a level of excitement to the roster that I can’t wait to see inside our cage, and this is just the beginning.”