YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul has signalled his intent to pursue an MMA career after signing with the Professional Fighters League.
The PFL began in 2018 following the acquisition of the World Series of Fighting, which boasted champions including UFC title contenders Justin Gaethje, Marlon Moraes and Jessica Aguilar, and is hot on the tails of the biggest MMA promotion – the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Wrestler-turned-mixed-martial-artist Ben Askren, not renowned for his boxing prowess, suffered a first round TKO in Paul’s third professional fight.
Paul then took a big step up in class to fight former UFC champion Tyron Woodley, and while Woodley himself was more known for his wrestling than striking, his win over Robbie Lawler for the UFC welterweight title came via knockout, but Paul outpointed Woodley to extend his record to 4-0.
The pair had a rematch which saw a truly devastating knockout of Woodley, with the former UFC champion sprawled out on the canvas unconscious.
Paul would make another leap when taking on former UFC middleweight champion and pound-for-pound all-time great Anderson Silva, who did have a Muay Thai background and though it wasn’t the peak Silva of the mid-2000s, boasted a win the previous year over former boxing world champion Julio Cesar Chavez.
The Problem Child knocked the Spider down in the final round en-route to moving to 8-0 as a professional boxer.
While talk has long circulated around a potential fight with Tyson Fury’s brother Tommy, a bout has never materialised, and Paul’s long-term boxing future is now unclear, though he does plan to step back inside the ropes once in 2023.
Mixed martial arts will certainly present a different – and bigger – challenge to Paul, with fighters combining several disciplines, including wrestling, kickboxing, karate, jiu-jitsu, Muay Thai, boxing and more, with most fighters having partaken in at least one discipline most of their life before branching out.
While the PFL works differently to the UFC, Paul himself will likely work under a different arrangement to most of its fighters.
Each of the PFL’s six weight classes has 12 fights, who fight twice per season ahead of a play-off series, where four fighters partake in two semi-finals, with the winners clashing to determine the league champion.
Paul, however, will partake in a new ‘Super Fight’ division, aimed at attracting recognised names who can instantly draw PPV sales – and Nate Diaz could be one target.
Paul has called out Diaz, who is now a free agent following the expiration of his UFC contract, and the pair could meet in the cage in 2023.