After a week off from the podcasts and writing for the website I woke Sunday morning and checked my phone. Sunday morning usually consists of one or two people texting me, asking how drunk they were the night before hoping that they didn’t offend anyone after the night before.
Sunday 18th April 2021 however my phone had been blowing up with people sending me videos of Jake Paul standing above a limp Ben Askren. FFS I hissed. I remember a time when I was keen to stay up all night to watch fights and letting the kids fall asleep on the couch to make sure I caught all the action live. This horror movie of a show Triller reminded me why sometimes its just best to go to bed!
I replayed the video several times and came to the unfortunate conclusion it was a decent stoppage. That being said a few facts still haunt me with this whole Youtuber/Boxer deal that all the Combat Sports fans have been dealt whether they want it or not.
Now I do know it started as a bit of fun. BUT (a big BUT), its now got to the point real athletes are looking to fight Jake Paul and are sucked into his mind game. Lets look at the facts.
Ben Askren fought at Welterweight for the majority of his career, and fought at Cruiser weight in order to meet Pauls challenge. This is indicative of Paul’s previous fights of smaller less talented fighters who were chosen to fight. The majority of the names (DC excluded) mentioned as a next opponent are all again lower weight classes. McGregor, Pourier, Diaz, BJ Penn, Cody Grabradt, Woodley. They all fall at Welterweight or below feeding into Paul’s weight and power advantage which has served him so far.
Second fact. These are all MMA fighters. I cannot stress this anymore its a different sport, the same as netball is not akin to basketball, nor Formula 1 to rally car driving, rugby to the NFL, tennis to badminton, golf to the local crazy golf. I could go on. Similar but all too different. So if Paul is a boxer why does he not call out any boxers. Mairis Briedis, Usyk, or Yuniel Dorticus, who are all Cruiser weight boxers that are mass draws in terms of their pedigree. Maybe you could argue that they do not have the same draw as some of these UFC fighters in the states. Well the solution is simple, go to your local MMA gym and start training to fight MMA fighters in the Octagon! Is it just me that thinks this?
Fact three, Dana White and his threat to litigate should Jake Paul keep pursuing fighters on the UFC roster. Apart from the fact they are under contract and could get injured fighting outside of the UFC. Lets say McGregor, Garbrandt, Pourier Diaz, or Woodley get the fight and it is a big money deal. Its not just the UFC that loses out. Its us the fans. You could miss the next Woodley v Lawler, or the next Mcgregor v Diaz, or the next Garbrandt v Dillashaw, again I could go on. While fighters are off pursuing unproven influencers who are handpicking fights for a show that had zero to do with fighting and 100% to do with showboating, peacocking and posturing, then we fans are the ones that lose out.
The picture I chose to illustrate this piece, was my son sleeping on the couch next to me while I stayed up to watch the Jon Jones v Gustafson 2 fight. I would stay up to watch a fight like that on UK time until 3 or 4 in the morning. But if the future is of the sport is anyone who has the money to hand fighting against picked opposition, then I worry there will be few fights worthy staying up to watch with the kids in future! (FYI he slept through the fight, I don’t think letting a 2 year old watch the UFC would make me a good parent, it was literally for sharing the moment before anyone complains!!!).
What do you think? Let me know. Personally I think he should fight a boxer at weight and the UFC should litigate to ensure no further fights are made unless done through a UFC sanctioned show. Let me know!
Peace – Neill Smith