Jake Paul officially got his hand raised, but nobody gains more in a loss than Nate Diaz.
From the loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202 (after choking him out first, of course) to the Leon Edwards fight, where all anyone talked about afterwards was how the future UFC Welterweight Champion almost got put away in the closing moments, no fighter has proven as capable of coming away stronger and more popular regardless of the outcome than the Pride of the 209.
It feels like that’s what happened on Saturday night as, even though Jake Paul got the unanimous decision in their 10 round main event clash, the most exciting part of the evening was that Nate was still flexing at the end.
And it didn’t seem like that would be the case. Jake was stitching Nate up from the opening round. Jake even knocked Nate down in Round 5. None of that mattered, though, because Nate was still standing at the end of Round 10.
That in and of itself was a victory. A moral victory for Nate Diaz fans, for MMA fans, and for Nate himself.
Nate Diaz knew the job was dangerous when he took it
I say that because I know how people felt about this fight. Not too many MMA fighters were coming out to say that Nate Diaz was going to win this fight. Plenty of folks from the boxing world were absolutely certain Nate wasn’t going to win this fight, from training partners to a promoter who was willing to speak knowing he wasn’t getting a piece of the action.
There was concern leading into the fight that Nate wasn’t taking things seriously. The training footage didn’t look great and his attitude towards promoting the event sure made it seem like Nate had no real intention to do anything other than clock in, clock out, and secure his bag.
Maybe that’s all he did but dammit if it didn’t feel like he was still out there giving people their money’s worth, proving once again who the real BMF is.
I mean, c’mon. Jake arrived in a tank and he wasn’t able to get Nate out of there inside the distance? And he calls himself a fighter…
But Jake accomplished what he needed to. On a night where Cory Sandhagen did the best be could to become the #1 contender to the UFC Bantamweight Championship (by default) and where the best punch of the entire night was probably the one Jose Ramirez threw at Tim Anderson (my White Sox have seen better days), Jake got the win he so badly needed.
And yes, Jake badly needed this win, or at least he needed it if the plan is to continue this boxing experiment he’s been on the last three years.
Jake Paul had to hit the reset button
In many ways, this fight felt like a restart to Jake’s career, with The Problem Child’s momentum stalling out, along with the interest of most casual observers, after the loss to Tommy Fury back in February. It was a close split decision loss, sure, but all anyone took away from it was that the kid who’s been using his YouTube money to play boxer lost to the first man he faced with real boxing experience.
The fight with Nate was both good and bad as a way to get back on track, good because it’s another high profile name to add to his list of accomplishments but bad because it looked like Jake couldn’t hack it against real competition so he went back to beating up on MMA fighters with no pro boxing experience again.
Saturday night was a victory but it was a Pyrrhic victory. If Jake is still dead set on making a career out of this and isn’t just using boxing as an avenue for selling potentially deadly energy drinks like his brother is, then he needs to get back in the ring quickly and he needs to get back in there with actual boxers.
It doesn’t matter if it’s a rematch with Tommy Fury (although he’ll have to wait for KSI to give Jake’s toy back first), trying to book Hasim Rahman, Jr. again, or someone else. If Jake Paul wants to be taken seriously, he needs to fight serious competition and, as much as I love Nate Diaz, he ain’t it.
MMA seems more like a distraction than a next step for Jake Paul
If they want to do their MMA fight next, that’s fine, even though I thought Nate Diaz wanted to go back to the UFC, but Jake better realize how much credibility he’d be giving up if he does that.
Nate Diaz gained a lot by taking a boxing fight when he could have stayed in MMA. His name is cemented as one of the toughest MMA fighters of all time. Jake still hasn’t really established himself anywhere in combat sports except as a novelty who’s starting to show hints of legitimate skill.
Making a sidestep to MMA could cause him to lose the progress he’s made in boxing. Plus, does he really think he can learn enough grappling and submission fighting to hang with the true king of the guillotine?
I don’t think so. If Jake Paul makes it into the PFL cage and flounders, he better call Saul and get his money back.
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