Bellator’s chief overseas regulator said there was no way Paul Daley could have fought Derek Anderson at Bellator 247 and criticized the veteran welterweight for saying otherwise.
Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation President Michael Mazzulli told MMA Fighting Daley “was not going to fight, period” despite a deleted message from the welterweight slugger claiming he could still fight. The decision to pull Daley was initially made by Brandon Morris, Mazzulli’s chief inspector on site in Milan, Italy.
Promotion officials announced the cancellation of the Bellator 247 main event after Daley was taken to an arena hospital before the ceremonial weigh-ins for Thursday’s fight card. The event, which airs on CBS Sports Network, is now headlined by flyweight fight between Denise Kielholtz and Kate Jackson.
Daley indicated he hadn’t received an IV at the hospital – which would have ruled him out of the fight automatically because of rules against IV rehydration after weigh-ins – and was ready to fight Anderson. But he acknowledged an error in cutting weight and took responsibility for his miss.
“This is not unusual for us professional fighters,” he said on an Instagram live video. “It just normally takes place in our room with our team. It’s just unfortunate it took place downstairs and Bellator, CBS and Sky Sports, even though I’m fit, I’m healthy, I’m 100 percent, no hospital treatment, ready to go right now, don’t want to put the fight on, so I apologize.”
Mazzulli took a dim view of Daley’s explanation that his normally private struggles with the scale were made public and were exacerbated by safety restrictions placed on fighters. Mazzulli said the fighter should take a hard look at his career choices.
“What he’s doing right now is not good for his body, plain and simple, and he needs to understand that he shouldn’t be doing this,” Mazzulli said. “He’s going to have to go up in weight. It amazes me that he thinks it’s OK what he’s doing with his body at his age.”
It was the second time Daley missed weight for a fight against Anderson. Mazzulli also oversaw a 2016 bout that was canceled due to Daley’s weight issues. Daley has repeatedly missed weight as a welterweight, sullying a career filled with highlight-reel knockouts.
The regulator also questioned why the promotion or Daley’s manager did not ask for a catchweight fight if there was a question the fighter would be heavy. He indicated he would take extra steps to ensure Daley’s safety if overseeing future fights of the UK vet, who has three fights remaining on his Bellator deal and has teased a possible departure from the ViacomCBS-owned promotion.
Asked whether Daley should move up, Bellator President Scott Coker said he will do some research on the matter before making a decision.
After working closely with California State Athletic Commission Executive Director Andy Foster on curbing extreme weight-cuts, a practice recently profiled on HBO’s Real Sports, Mazzulli said he’s “thoroughly disgusted” with an apparent lack of impact on fighters.
“These guys just ignore it, ignore it and ignore it,” he said. “Until somebody dies, nothing’s going to be done.”