By the end of Saturday night Jake Paul and Nate Diaz had spent 10 rounds in the ring together and didn’t prove a whole hell of a lot. Paul dropped Diaz at one point, and started the majority of the rounds looking much stronger and cleaner with his boxing technique. Nate, however, had a habit of rallying late in rounds, as Paul started to slow—and spent a lot of the fight clowning around.
Eventually, there was lots of clinching, and a few really solid exchanges, but the rounds had a very consistent, same-y feel. When it was all over, both men seemed more interested in how they could run it back in MMA rather than resting on the strength of this fight. As to why that was? No surprise that the excuses are already starting to flow.
Nate Diaz had an injured shoulder
For Diaz, the need for excuses is far clearer. A lifelong martial artist and longtime practicing pugilist, many fans were expecting to see Stockton’s own show up the former ‘Disney Kid’ turned celebrity boxer. He did not.
There was no shortage of confidence and no shortage of durability, but the boxing form largely wasn’t there—with Diaz doing his best work in prolonged grimy inside exchanges when Paul’s energy was clearly flagging. To hear him tell it, the 38-year-old had intended to have a more nuanced, range game, but a shoulder injury prevented him from pulling it off.
“[Coach] Richard [Perez] got mad at me because I wasn’t training how I should have been training,” Diaz explained at the post-fight presser (transcript via MMA Fighting). “I should have been throwing punches, keeping him on the outside and doing a lot of stuff.
“Like I said in an interview, I’m not trying to make excuses, but about a month back I was trying to stay big and I hurt my arm a little bit. Wear and tear on my right arm if I was jabbing or doing a lot of stuff, so I would get inside and fight like a Mexican guy. Smother their punches and get in there and make every sparring session a brawl and did that in camp, and that’s how the fight went.
“I think I should have kept on the outside, circled, and did better stuff. I know I pissed Rich off, he don’t want me to say it but he wanted me to keep it on the outside and I should have. But it’s all good. There’s no way I’m not going to show up for a fight because of something like that. You’ve got to go regardless, no matter what. So I plan on doing my next one, if it’s gonna be boxing, we’re going to work like a small guy not a big guy.”
Diaz also complained of the difficulty in training with the added weight he’d packed on for the fight, noting that Paul wasn’t nearly as big as he had expected him to be in the ring. “I would have liked to have stayed smaller,” he added. “If I went up to this weight, I would like to have trained like I do when I’m smaller.”
Excuses aside, Diaz should be commended for looking a lot better than expected in his first boxing bout either as a professional or an amateur. He may have spent years sparring with high level pros, but there’s a world of difference between practicing something and doing it for real. His cardio looked great, and he looked comfortable inside the ring. The fight definitely could have gone worse. Plus an 8-figure payday probably goes a long way to soothing the sting of defeat.
Jake Paul didn’t knock Diaz out
Speaking of which, the major narrative for Jake Paul going into his fight with Nate Diaz was that he was going to knock the former UFC title contender out; finish him the way Conor McGregor couldn’t—put him out cold on the canvas the way no one ever had before (not even Josh Thomson with his brutal TKO). He hurt Diaz at one point, and he caught the Cesar Gracie black belt clean plenty of times, but he never truly came close to ending the fight.
Why not? Paul says he was too smart. He’s just satisfied he felt like he got Diaz’s respect.
“My motor was running hot and I was punching him hard and hard and hard, and he wasn’t going down,” Paul told the assembled media (transcript via MMA Fighting). “He was standing there. So I didn’t want to burn out and let him catch a win and come back with something.
“So I was being patient, being smart, and was looking for the kill. But at the end of the day, he withstood a bunch of big, big, big punches.”
“I don’t know how he survived the first round, but he’s a dog and I walked the dog,” Paul added. “For sure [he felt my power], I could see it the whole fight. In the first round, I seen his eyes light up and he was like, ‘OK, they talk about this kid’s power, but when you feel it, it’s different.’”
Paul is now adamant that he wants to fight Diaz in an MMA bout, even offering Diaz as much as a $10 million payday to make the bout happen. The longtime UFC veteran seemed unenthused by the idea in the build up to the boxing match, and has made it clear that one of his biggest future goals is a return to the Octagon. But it’s hard to imagine the former Ultimate Fighter winner finding that kind of payday with the world’s largest MMA promotion.
“Let’s do it,” Diaz replied to Paul’s offer inside the ring after the fight (transcript via The Mirror). “We’re going to have to co-promote with Real Fight Inc. He’s big and he’s tough, I wish I could have done better things but some s—t, it didn’t go the way I wanted it to. I should have trained better and done better things but it’s all good. He won this one but I’ll fight anyone, I don’t give a f—k.”
May just be that we’ll actually see Jake Paul with a pair of 4oz gloves on sometime in the next year. And Nate Diaz fighting MMA outside of the UFC for the first time since 2006.
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