Renowned MMA journalist Ariel Helwani thinks that while we’re still a wide distance from the goal line, the ball for a potential Conor McGregor vs. Jake Paul fight is now in play.
Jake Paul has wanted a fight against Conor McGregor seemingly ever since he entered the world of professional boxing two years ago. Whenever speaking of his dream opponents, McGregor’s name has never been far from his lips.
The same can’t be said about the other side, though. Not only has McGregor never expressed interest in fighting Paul, but he’s always ignored him whenever smack talk from the YouTuber was tossed in his direction.
Part of that equation changed recently when McGregor finally responded to Paul after the 5-0 boxer criticized his boxing technique. Though the Irishman didn’t say much—one word to be exact—that word (“jackass”) along with some interpretable thawing on the Dana White front has Ariel Helwani believing that a McGregor/Paul fight could eventually happen.
“I maintain that Dana likes Jake Paul. I maintain that Dana would want to do business with Jake Paul,” Helwani began on his program The MMA Hour. “I maintain that we are closer than ever—this is how the Mayweather thing started—to this fight actually happening. Now does it ultimately happen? No, but I believe it is more of a thing than it was six, eight months ago.
“Conor responding to the tweet, Dana talking about it, not closing the door, talking weight and all this stuff—this would be the biggest fight in combat that can be made right now. It would do well over two million buys. And you can just see the interest building. You can see the wheels turning. You can see people starting to warm up to it, the important people. So again, I’m not saying it’s happening; it’s not happening. I’m just saying we continue to inch closer to it happening—inch closer, inch closer, appearance here, a question there, an answer there, an open door here.”
Dana White has always maintained that he has no interest in doing business with Jake Paul. However, to Helwani’s point, White recently only questioned if Paul could make it down to 170 to fight McGregor as opposed to outright shutting the door in the YouTuber’s face per usual.
But what’s most telling to Helwani is the subtle yet noticeable change in behavior from The Notorious One.
“And then to me, the biggest thing was Conor directly responding. Because in the past, he always ignored, interviews—always deflected. A back-to-back MMA/boxing would be just gigantic. Will the UFC be willing to pay Jake Paul what he’s making in boxing? I mean, they could afford it. Do they want to set that precedent? I don’t know…If everyone puts their ego aside, there’s just a gigantic amount of money to be made.
“Now we do dismiss the size. Jake fights at around 190. Conor just barely makes 170. That’s significant. It’s really significant. But I just feel like we are closer than ever. Now when I say ‘closer than ever,’ do I mean we’re on the goal line? No. We might be on the five-yard line as opposed to being in the end zone just starting off. But I feel like there’s something happening here. That’s all I’ll say. I feel like we are inching, inching, inching, ‘inching—inching’ being the operative word—ever so slowly.”
The last time the fight was proposed by Paul, it was for a UFC fight against McGregor. If Paul won, White would agree to Paul’s list of terms geared towards improving UFC fighter pay and benefits. If McGregor won, Paul would donate his entire fight purse to UFC fighters making less than $50,000 per fight and never speak of the UFC again.
It bears noting that Helwani is merely speculating and not reporting any actual talks for a McGregor/Paul bout taking place. However, if this far-fetched pairing actually does materialize, you’ll most certainly get the scoop right here on MMANews.com.
What do you think are the chances we’ll see Conor McGregor and Jake Paul fight in any capacity?