Jake Paul is one of the biggest names in combat sports right now, and that’s not sitting well with a lot of people that have spent their lives in the game.
Among that lot are many of the fans and personalities of the UFC. Despite that fact, or possibly because of it, Paul decided to show up for UFC 261. Saying that he wasn’t warmly received would be a serious understatement.
Fans loudly chanted “fuck Jake Paul” on multiple occasions, including during live fights. Paul hammed it up and jeered the audience in response, drawing even more boos. It wasn’t just the fans in attendance that went after the YouTuber, though.
UFC President Dana White keeps taking jabs at Jake Paul, and Paul is countering back hard.
The popular YouTuber showed up to UFC 261 on Saturday night and he outshined most of the fights that actually took place. That was apparent in the post-fight press conferences as White fielded multiple questions about Paul’s presence and his bickering with former fighter and current UFC commentator Daniel Cormier.
White threw shade in the direction of both Jake Paul and social media company Triller, which promoted Paul’s bout with former UFC fighter Ben Askren. In response, Paul took a hard swing at White and the UFC’s business practices that have historically seen fighters go underpaid.
“In my third fight, I made more in total pay than any fighter in UFC history. Maybe it’s time to pay your fighters their fair share? No wonder they all want to get into boxing. Dana, you say you make the fights fans want to see, so hurry up and make [Jon] Jones vs. [Francis] Ngannou. Pay them their fair share,” Paul said.
The UFC has a long history of butting heads with big-name fighters when it comes to pay. In the last year alone, the likes of Nate Diaz, Conor McGregor, Jorge Masvidal, and more have had public spats with Dana White regarding pay. This isn’t a new phenomenon either, as such legends of the sport as Ken Shamrock, Georges St-Pierre, and Randy Couture have also beefed with White for the same reason.
UFC brass has publicly stated that the percentage of revenue that gets paid out to fighters is under 20%, compared with the 50% to 60% paid to players in every major sports league. This low pay is a big reason why so many UFC fighters have lined up for the chance to face Jake Paul in the ring.
Former two-division UFC champion and current color commentator Daniel Cormier also mixed it up with Jake Paul. During the event, Cormier got in Paul’s face and had some testy verbal exchanges with him. They didn’t come to blows, but the pair tried to advance their feud further on social media.
Daniel Cormier online
“Imma Smack Jake Paul when I see him”
Daniel Cormier in person… 🤔 pic.twitter.com/zHnssneYBV
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) April 25, 2021
The dust-up between Paul and Cormier comes after the two had previously gotten into it on social media in the immediate aftermath of Paul’s knockout win over Ben Askren. Cormier called out Paul and boxer J’Leon Love for alleged disrespectful treatment of former UFC champion Tyron Woodley, who was a cornerman for Askren during their match.
Paul responded to this on Twitter and challenged Cormier to a fight, with Cormier clearly still seemingly steaming over the exchange.
Okay fat boy. So me vs you & J vs. T.?? https://t.co/MDhyPTVpIN
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) April 18, 2021
Though nothing is official, Cormier could be Jake Paul’s next opponent. A long list of fighters have called out Paul, but Cormier is similar to Askren in many ways, boasting some strong promotional skills as well as a wrestling background that wouldn’t be as worrying for Paul as might some other fighters with more established histories as strikers.
Fans of MMA and the UFC in particular have a long history of insecurity when it comes to the legitimacy of the sport. As such, whenever there is a noteworthy bout where a mixed martial artist makes the sport seemingly look bad by association it leads to disgruntled fans. Jake Paul, a celebrity YouTuber, knocking out an Olympian and heavily decorated mixed martial artist certainly fits this bill.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. There are many examples of this throughout UFC history, both when it comes to outsiders entering into MMA and mixed martial artists transitioning into boxing.
Many UFC fans rejected WWE wrestler Brock Lesnar when he transitioned into MMA, with some worried over the optics of a professional wrestler smashing an all-time great like Randy Couture. The same concerns were raised over the boxing match between two-division UFC champion Conor McGregor and top boxer Floyd Mayweather, which McGregor lost handily.
Though promoters are generally willing to engage with this sort of attraction, this is largely rooted in UFC President Dana White’s hypocritical bluster regarding other fight promotions doing crossover fights. He made that quite clear in a press conference after UFC 261.
In the past White raged when rival promotion EliteXC ran the first MMA event on American network television with social media sensation Kimbo Slice as the main event. Slice later fought in the UFC twice. White also criticized Strikeforce for bringing in retired football star Herschel Walker, but has repeatedly looked at NFL washouts as potential fighters. White also promoted professional wrestler CM Punk on two UFC pay-per-view cards, despite Punk having no established history in combat sports. Punk was badly beaten in both of his appearances.
Given his history, it’s likely that Dana White would jump at the chance to bring Jake Paul into a UFC cage.
It is highly unlikely that Jake Paul will end up competing in the UFC. Though MMA fans would certainly love to see the YouTuber taken out of his comfort zone and into a sport where he has no experience, there’s no reason for Paul to pursue anything other than boxing.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) April 18, 2021
Combat sports has shown time and again that when it comes to negotiations it’s the bigger draw that gets to call the shots. In the same way that Floyd Mayweather got to make nearly all the decisions regarding his boxing match against UFC fighter Conor McGregor, Jake Paul will be able to pick the who, how, when, and where of his future combat sports endeavors. That means that for any future fights, Paul will choose to fight in the sport where he’s most comfortable and has actual training, which is boxing.
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