TAMPA, Fla. -- The months since Bellator Fighting Championship wrapped its sixth season in May have been fortuitous to the company's roster.
Numerous high-profile athletes signed with the promotion, which will make the jump from MTV2 to Spike TV in January to further raise its profile.
One of the prized new additions made a memorable debut over the weekend when Paul Daley defeated Rudy Bears via a first-round TKO at Bellator 72.
"(Bears) came in against a guy who I think is, if not the most dangerous, surely one of the most dangerous punchers in all of MMA, a guy that we recruited for a long time, a guy that we're thrilled to have fighting in Bellator, a guy that we think will do electrifying things as we transition to Spike network (in 2013)," Bellator CEO and founder Bjorn Rebney said. "He is a made-for-TV fighter. He lives by the sword and dies by the sword. Paul, welcome to Bellator."
Daley became notorious for a post-fight moment of indiscretion in May 2010. Following a loss to Josh Koscheck in a welterweight title eliminator at UFC 113, Daley punched Koscheck in the face in the seconds following the fight. The maneuver earned him a suspension and his termination from the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
"Obviously, I'm a more mature fighter now," Daley said. "I'm not allowing incidents in the cage, when I don't get my own way, to act out. I've grown up a lot."
Daley, a 29-year-old native of London, bounced around to five different promotions, including several stints with Strikeforce, where he went 1-3.
Daley, 7-3 overall since his UFC departure, possibly found his home with Bellator Fighting Championships. Daley will fight once more this fall before he participates in next year's welterweight tournament, where he can secure a title shot with three victories.
"Bellator's been absolutely fantastic," Daley said. "They've run everything professionally and as close as you can get (to their competitors). Obviously, they're still growing, but it felt like the big show. I felt really comfortable here."