Dan Hardy Names Opponent That ‘Makes The Most Sense’ For Jake Paul In MMA After Nate Diaz’s Rejections

With a rematch of their boxing showdown in the steel surroundings of a cage looking unlikely, Jake Paul has been pitched an opponent other than Nate Diaz for his potential mixed martial arts venture.

While building his record in the sport of professional boxing, Paul has long outlined his intention to also make a splash in the MMA world too. That appeared to take a step closer to coming to fruition in early 2023 when he put pen to paper on an MMA-exclusive deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL).

At the time, the promotion noted that “The Problem Child” would spearhead its new PPV Super Fight division and make his debut in the SmartCage that same year. But in addition to 2023 completing without the ex-Disney star putting his MMA ambitions into motion, another calendar year is on its way to passing by.

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After defeating former UFC star Nate Diaz in the ring last August, both Paul and the PFL higher-ups made public pleas for the Stockton native to meet the longtime online personality in the cage.

Since Diaz firmly dismissed that as a possibility, Paul’s focus has remained on boxing, where he’s set to face BKFC star Mike Perry later this month and heavyweight legend Mike Tyson toward the back end of 2024.

With that, the chances of Paul crossing over to the cage are looking increasingly more unlikely. One ex-fighter and key figure in the PFL’s expansion, however, still sees an opponent who could convince the Cleveland native to lace the 4oz gloves…

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Hardy: Paul Could Be ‘Enticed’ To MMA For Woodley Fight

During an interview with MMA Fighting, Dan Hardy — a former UFC title challenger and the current director of fighter operations for PFL Europe — was asked about the current state of Paul’s plans in MMA.

After noting that a bout with Diaz appeared to take up all of Paul’s mixed martial arts interest, “The Outlaw” suggested that Diaz’s rejection stems from his fear of a stock-damaging defeat to “The Problem Child” in his realm of the fight game.

With that ship seemingly sailing, Hardy does have another name in mind that could reignite Paul’s interest in MMA.

“I think the idea ultimately was for Jake Paul to be able to get Nate Diaz in a cage and fight him in mixed martial arts,” Hardy said. “I think he had his heart set on Nate Diaz and I don’t think Nate Diaz wants to take the risk of sullying his name and his brand by losing to Jake in an MMA fight. I hate to say it but after watching the boxing match, I think Jake could potentially be a problem for Nate in MMA.

“If we’re doing it, the one that makes the most sense is Tyron Woodley. He’s been commentating with the PFL, he does a great job with that. Every time I see him, we have a very frosty handshake. I feel like he still wants to punch me in the face,” Hardy continued. “Of course, he’s got that knockout loss to Jake Paul. If I’m Tyron Woodley, I’m putting myself at the front of the line to welcome Jake Paul into MMA. I think that’s the kind of opponent Jake Paul could be enticed by.”

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Paul and Woodley certainly have a history, having faced each other twice inside the squared circle. While their first contest in August 2021 was a close and competitive affair, the short-notice rematch four months later concluded with the former UFC champion face down on the canvas.

Having continued to express his plans to revisit MMA three years on from his UFC exit, perhaps “The Chosen One” will raise his hand for the task of welcoming Paul to the SmartCage.

For now, though, the polarizing YouTuber-turned-boxer will have his sights on a different ex-UFC athlete in Perry, who has emerged as a leading figure in bare-knuckle boxing owing to victories over Michael “Venom” Page, Luke Rockhold, Eddie Alvarez, and Thiago Alves.

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