Jake Paul Changes The Game Switches To MMA | So Why Is Conor McGregor Hating?

Image Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty

Jake Paul changed the trajectory of his unlikely everyman combat sports career on Thursday with the announcement that he has signed to fight mixed martial arts. “The Problem Child” signed a multi-fight, multi-year contract with the Professional Fighters League. The news starts a new chapter for the fighter that ended last year with a career-defining boxing win over combat sports legend Anderson “The Spider” Silva.

Why Did Jake Paul Leave Boxing For MMA?

“I’ve proven myself in and out of the boxing ring and now I am going to do the same in MMA,” Paul said via statement. “There is no limit to the positive impact I can make on the sport. I plan to enter the PFL SmartCage and once again show the world that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.”

Recently, Paul called out recent MMA free agent Nate Diaz for a two-fight deal in boxing and MMA. Diaz’s last fight for the UFC was a win over former UFC lightweight champion Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 last September.

“I’ve already disrupted boxing, and now it’s time to disrupt MMA,” Paul boasted in a video on his YouTube channel. “I know this is such a tough sport, and it’s not going to be easy, but if I could do it in boxing, I could do it in MMA.

“I’m so dedicated to this that I offered Nate Diaz a two-fight deal. First we box. Then six months later we fight MMA in the PFL smart cage and lay it all on the line. If that’s not balls, then I don’t know what is. Nate Diaz, I’m down to fight you in your own damn sport. It’s a two-fight deal. Let’s make it happen.”

 

What Is PFL?

PFL is part of a four-headed option for MMA fans who watch the UFC, Bellator MMA, and now ONE FC for the top domestic bouts with the world’s top talent. To compete, PFL created the “Pay-per-view Super Fight Division,” a separate event from its regular-season roster and a continuation of its first pay-per-view event last November. The company plans to host two PPV events in 2023, although there is yet to be a timeline for Paul’s entrance into the cage.

“I think what’s made Jake interesting to fans is that he works hard, and he doesn’t underestimate what it takes,” PFL chairman and co-founder Donn Davis said to ESPN. “He knows he’s not ready [for his MMA debut] right now, but he’s starting to train. I think it’s going to be about one year from now, so early 2024, where you’ll see him take on his first opponent. But the kind of opponents he is thinking of will shock the world in terms of their status and name brand.”

The Advocate & The Opposition

Paul now has a minority stake in the company and has been named head of fighter advocacy at PFL. The role will allow him to promote the athletes and assist in recruitment, furthering his very vocal stance on making sure fighters are treated better in MMA. The fighter is ardently opposed to how the UFC does business with its talent and has a handshake deal with Anderson Silva to start a fighters union.

As a fighter signed to the Super Fight Division, Paul will receive a 50 percent revenue share between the promotion and athletes, an unheard-of notion in the UFC, which only allows champions to receive a portion of the PPV, usually over a couple of hundred thousand buys.

One of Paul’s most famous targets, Conor McGregor, believes Paul is making a significant mistake with this new deal.

“Numbnuts gave away 50 per cent of a future purse if he does an MMA bout? Wow. What an idiot. Joint partnership what? For what you Wally. Wally,” McGregor posted in a since-deleted tweet.

Can Jake Paul Conquer MMA?

Paul has fought boxing matches under his Most Valuable Promotions partnering with larger companies like Triller and Showtime for broadcast and regional promoters like Holden Boxing for logistics. Along the way, Paul has compiled an undefeated record, with his promotional stock rising considerably. From McGregor’s logic, Paul could have done an MMA promotion under the MVP banner and received more money, although he would still need to align with a broadcaster or regional promoter.

Never in combat sports history has a veritable layman from non-athletic entertainment spheres like Disney programming and social media popularity moved around the fight business like this. Paul is setting a new standard for entering and creating opportunities in the fight game.

Rhett Butler is a Boxing Writer Association of America Journalist, Play-By-Play Commentator, Combat Sports Insider, and Former Mixed Martial Arts and Boxing Promoter. The New York City native honed his skills at various news outlets including but not limited to: TIME Magazine, Money Magazine, CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports, and more. Rhett hosts the PRITTY Left Hook podcast, a polarizing combat sports insider's take featuring the world's biggest names.