He’s one of the most polarizing figures not just in boxing, but in all of sports. He draws the eyes of viewers whether they love his untraditional path to the pros, want to see him crash and burn because of his outspoken behavior and penchant for controversy, and even if they think his fights are rigged to boost ratings.
After establishing himself as a Disney Channel star and rising to fame using social media platforms like Vine and YouTube, Jake Paul took to professional boxing in early 2020. He began his pro career on a 6-0 streak, suffering his first loss on February 26 against Tommy Fury via split decision.
Paul hasn’t announced who he’ll fight next, mostly because boxing isn’t the only thing that he has in store.
He announced on January 5 that he’d begin training in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ) and signed a multi-year deal with the Professional Fighters League (PFL), a mixed martial arts league.
While it’s a step or two down from the UFC, Paul’s testing the waters of a different sport is a fascinating development in his surprising career.
Depending how he decided to branch out, it could take some time before Paul steps back in the ring again. With a whole host of boxing and MMA leagues for martial arts (and Paul Brothers) fans to keep tabs on, however, the action is never far away. The next major event for fans of combat sports is UFC 286, which will take place on Saturday, March 18. The headliner for that event pits welterweights Leon Edwards (20-3) and Kamaru Usman (20-2) against each other. Bookmakers have Usman as the overwhelming favorite, listed at -240. Usman lost to Edwards via knockout in August 2022, but bookies and bettors don’t expect it to happen again.
It’s worth noting that promo codes in Massachusetts are available for those looking to place bets on UFC 286 or any other upcoming combat sports events. These promo codes can provide a variety of bonuses and incentives for users, making it even more exciting to get in on the action. This legislation will become live in the Commonwealth at 10am EST on Friday, March 10, just in time for prospective wagerers to place their bets on the fight.
A Surprising Source of Praise… Or is it?
The move drew praise from Kenny Florian, who fought in MMA for a variety of leagues (ranging from the relatively underground to the UFC) from 2003 to 2012. Florian is widely considered to be one of the greatest fighters to ever win a UFC title: it didn’t help that he fought at four different weight classes throughout his career, never having the time to hone his skills in one particular area. Florian offered his praise for Paul back in February in an interview with SB Nation’s MMA Fighting page.
“I can see that he’s already training, I know that,” Florian said. “I’m not a huge fan of the YouTuber fights and this and that but I have come to respect Jake Paul and what he’s been doing. This is a guy who does not need to fight. He’s already a millionaire. He does a lot of other stuff.
“For him to go in there, train hard, prepare for these boxing fights, he’s picking the right fights, clearly an intelligent guy. He’s making the right decisions of who he fights. He’s performing. He’s showing that he is dangerous. Now he wants to try his hand at mixed martial arts. I love it.”
Praise from Florian is an interesting clash of two worlds: one of the most cerebral fighters who ever lived complimenting Paul, who feeds off of the public perception of himself as an outspoken oaf (whether that’s a legitimate criticism or just another facet of his penchant for playing the heel and stirring up controversy).
Following the conclusion of his fighting career, Florian worked as a color commentator for UFC Fight Night, a testament to his eye for and knowledge of the sport. These days, he’s working as a commentator for the PFL… so it’s important to note that as an employee of the fledgling league, he does have a professional interest in the growth of Paul’s brand.
Florian went on to acknowledge that it could be quite some time before Paul takes part in an MMA match. Martial arts like BJJ can take years to master, and the fighters he’s going against would already have a leg up in that training process. Whether he’s ready to move on from his boxing career or if he’ll try to balance both remains to be seen.
One thing is certain: Paul knows how to market his brand, and no matter how long it takes for him to train in BJJ, we’ll see hype continue to build surrounding his craft.