In a short space of time, Paul has grown from an internet celebrity trying his hand at boxing against other online stars to a professional pugilist knocking out former MMA champions.
Whether you admire his presence and growth in the sport or see him as a disturbance, no one can deny the rapid rise “The Problem Child” has made into the combat sports mainstream.
Having fought and finished fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib and former NBA star Nate Robinson, Paul turned his attention to mixed martial artists.
In three 2021 bouts, he knocked out former ONE and Bellator welterweight champion Ben Askren and defeated former 170-pound UFC titleholder Tyron Woodley twice, once on the scorecards and once with a brutal KO.
In his quest for more eyeballs, bigger paychecks, and, if you believe it to be genuine, better pay for fighters, Paul has consistently called out and berated Dana White, the leading man for the world’s premier MMA promotion.
From sharing his disgust at the fact UFC women’s flyweight Sarah Alpar was forced to create a GoFundMe to finance her camp and expenses, to offering to enter the Octagon with Jorge Masvidal and retire from boxing if White increases fighter pay and provides a number of benefits for his roster, Paul hasn’t shied away from calling out the UFC President and his organization.
Dana White: “I Don’t Hate The Guy”
Despite all that, and in spite of his responses and accusations of steroid usage directed at the Cleveland native, White maintains that he doesn’t actually hate Paul. Instead, the 52-year-old sees “The Problem Child” as a kid who is simply “doing his thing” and making money, something White says he’d never criticize.
“He really hasn’t been a thorn in my side. I don’t hate the guy like people think I hate him,” White told Manouk Akopyan. “You know, he’s out there doing his thing. He’s a young guy who’s got a fanbase and is trying to make some money. I don’t ever fault anybody for that.”
Nevertheless, White has appeared unlikely to ever consider doing business with the 25-year-old star.
But citing the blockbuster ‘Money Fight’ between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor in 2017 as an example of fan demand pushing him into the crossover market, the UFC kingpin hinted he’d be open to joining the ongoing surge in crossover bouts if the desire for him to do so reaches a similar level to what it did four years ago.
“It’s a tough one. Obviously, when there’s this underground swell from the fans and the media and the thing builds up into something like Mayweather vs. McGregor was, you know, you saw how that worked out, I ended up doing it,” added White. “But I haven’t seen anything that big and that crazy since… If there’s a fight that could be made with some of this other stuff that’s that big that my fans really wanna see it, I usually do it.”
While White continues to put together and host weekly fight cards, Paul will seemingly continue his unbeaten venture into the squared circle, with UFC stars Nate Diaz and Masvidal on his radar.
Should Paul continue to gain momentum and popularity in the combat sports realm, perhaps we’ll eventually see him enter the Octagon or do business in some way or another with White.
Can you picture Dana White ever doing business with Jake Paul?