Paul holds off Diaz rally, calls for MMA rematch

Boxing

DALLAS — In Jake Paul’s war against 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 tough fight throughout.

“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 said it would have to be co-promoted by his Real Fight Inc.

“I’ll do either, MMA or boxing,” Diaz said about a potential rematch with Paul. “MMA sounds good. He won one, I need to get one back, so I’m down with that.”

Paul dropped Diaz in the fifth round, but Diaz was able to recover. Diaz joked afterward about getting Paul into a guillotine choke in the 10th and final round.

Paul, 26, came in with 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. Diaz, 38, was making his professional boxing debut. The bout was contested at 185 pounds, the heaviest weight Diaz has fought at in his long career.

Diaz spent 17 years in the 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 the UFC as a free agent following a win over Tony Ferguson last 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. RFI President Zach Rosenfield told ESPN last month that both Paul and Diaz would earn well into the eight figures for the fight, which is more than Diaz made in any of his UFC fights. It was also arguably the biggest fight so far 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 the 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 against Paul and Gen Z influencer culture.

Paul and Diaz seemed to make up after the fight, with Diaz giving Paul credit.

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