In April, former Bellator and ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren will face YouTube personality Jake Paul in a boxing match. Paul, who has spent the last few years training in boxing as part of a career pivot, knocked out three-time NBA Slam Dunk Champion Nate Robinson last year and is now looking to compete against real professional fighters. And though Askren is set to be the first of those, Paul says he’ll be far from the last.
“We’ll see what happens after this fight,” Paul told MMA Junkie. “Floyd Mayweather called me out last week. I still think there’s the McGregor fight. Nate Diaz said he’s down to fight me. We’ll see what happens. I’m excited. This is just the start of an illustrious career. Ben Askren just happens to be the first on the list.
“People are going to see. They’re going to be surprised, and it’s going to be hard for me to get a fight after this, to be honest. It really is. People are going to see my performance and say, ‘Let’s really second guess ourselves here because, do we want to lose to the Disney channel actor, boxer kid?”
Paul rose to prominence as on the now-defunct Vine app amassing millions of followers. He then converted that into an acting role of the Disney Channel show Bizaardvark and became a huge YouTube personality. From there, Paul shifted into boxing and though he is obviously not an elite combat sports athlete, Paul’s celebrity has carried over and is allowing him to angle for fights with some of the biggest names in boxing and MMA. In fact, because of Paul’s fame, he believes that after his dispatches Ben Askren and proves his bonafides, he’ll be on a collision course with Nate Diaz.
“I think Nate Diaz will probably happen first,” Paul said. “I think Conor needs to get some wins under his belt. Conor is owned by Dana White. Conor is Dana White’s b**** so he has to get Dana White’s approval. Nate Diaz only has two more fights in the UFC (on his contract), so if he can complete those and he’s freed up then Nate Diaz vs. Jake Paul will happen in 2022. Those are sort of the talks that are happening right now.”
The ultimate goal for Paul though is obviously McGregor. McGregor is the biggest name in MMA and arguably in combat sports in general. Given Paul’s own celebrity, a fight with McGregor would likely be one of the biggest combat sports events of the year, an opportunity that McGregor wouldn’t be able to turn down.
“Once I beat Nate Diaz, once I embarrass him actually, I will be undeniable to McGregor because I will say, ‘Hey, bubba. Listen to me, guy, you little Irish guy: I beat the guy who beat you. So you have to fight me,’” Paul said. “That’s why this is so exciting. It’s one step at a time. It’s one fight at a time. I still have a major milestone ahead of me April 17, and like I said, though, this is the start of an illustrious career. Ten years from now I’ll be coming to watch these interviews, and I’ll be like, ‘Damn, this kid was a little evil genius, predicting all of this.”
Paul vs. Askren takes place on Apr. 17 at a location yet to be named.