In Jake Paul’s war versus MMA fighters, he remains undefeated.
The YouTuber-turned-prizefighter defeated Nate Diaz via unanimous decision (97-92, 98-91, 98-91) Saturday night at a sold-out American Airlines Center. Paul hurt Diaz in the first round, and it seemed he would cruise or finish the fight early. But Diaz hung in and made it a competitive fight.
“He’s tough. He’s real tough,” Paul said in his postfight interview. “That’s what he’s known for. But tough in this sport doesn’t work.
“I knocked him down, won basically every round, but he’s a warrior. I had him hurt in the first round, he kept on coming. No one’s taken that much damage. All credit to my team and conditioning. Going 10 rounds in my eighth fight, it’s unheard of. Only been boxing for three years and beat a UFC legend.”
Paul challenged Diaz to an MMA fight afterward, and Diaz seemed receptive. Paul and PFL have a standing $10 million offer for Diaz to do it. Diaz stated it would have to be co-promoted by his Real Fight Inc. Zach Rosenfield, Diaz’s rep and the Real Fight Inc. president, said the price wouldn’t be $10 million, implying it would have to be more.
“If I just lost, I would like to rematch him in this to beat him in this,” Diaz told ESPN. “But if not, I would do [MMA]. Whatever I got to do to get a rematch.”
Paul dropped Diaz in the fifth round, but Diaz recovered. Diaz joked afterward about getting Paul into a guillotine choke in the 10th and final round. Paul outlanded Diaz 174-143 in total punches. Diaz’s best work was on the inside, while Paul used a nice left hook on the outside that hurt Diaz several times.
“He just wasn’t defending it,” Paul told ESPN of the left hook. “He was defending the right more, the straight punches. So I was just coming around the guard and throwing the right to the body.”
Diaz told ESPN afterward that he injured his arm in training. Diaz’s boxing coach, Richard Perez, said at the postfight news conference that the injury affected Diaz’s jab.
Paul, 26, is now 7-1 in boxing with his one loss coming from his last fight with Tommy Fury. Paul had boxing wins over former UFC champions Anderson Silva and Tyron Woodley (two, including one by knockout) plus another knockout over former MMA champion Ben Askren. He has been a pro boxer since 2020, knocking down or knocking out every opponent he has faced.
Diaz, 38, was making his professional boxing debut. The fight was contested at 185 pounds, the heaviest weight Diaz has fought in his long career.
“If I could do it again, I would’ve not tried to gain the weight,” Diaz told ESPN. “Because I think that slowed me down a little bit in camp.”
Diaz spent 17 years in UFC and was one of the promotion’s biggest stars. He choked out Conor McGregor, handing McGregor his first UFC loss, in 2016. Diaz left UFC as a free agent following a victory over Tony Ferguson in September. He started Real Fight Inc. and vowed to look for the biggest and most interesting fights — on his terms.
This card was a 50-50 partnership between Real Fight Inc. and Paul’s Most Valuable Promotions. Rosenfield told ESPN last month that both Paul and Diaz would earn well into eight figures for the bout, which is more than Diaz made in any of his UFC fights. It was also arguably the biggest fight for Paul. MVP co-founder Nakisa Bidarian said Diaz was the first fellow “A” side — a proven pay-per-view draw — Paul has faced in his career.
Tempers flared during the week. Paul and his crew got under Diaz’s skin at a news conference, and a skirmish broke out between the two teams’ security guards. The two got physical at the weigh-in. Diaz painted it as philosophical and generational differences, himself the old-school martial artist versus Paul and Gen Z influencer culture.
Paul and Diaz seemed to make up after the fight, with Diaz giving Paul credit.
“He’s a big, athletic dude, and he hits hard,” Diaz said at the news conference. “But it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”