Jake Paul is set to make perhaps the most dramatic move of his combat sports career so far, agreeing to a multi-fight contract to compete for mixed martial arts organization PFL (Professional Fighters League).
Paul, the YouTube sensation who has shaken up boxing with a 6-0 start to his professional career and generated a flurry of publicity, is now expected to compete in both sports in 2023.
“I’ve proven myself in and out of the boxing ring, and now I am going to do the same in MMA — and there is no limit to the positive impact I can make on the sport,” Paul said, in a statement released by PFL. “I plan to enter the PFL SmartCage and once again show the world that anything is possible with hard work and dedication.”
The PFL deal involves a collaboration between Paul and the league, in line with the launch of a new “Super Fight” division that will see its events broadcast on pay-per view.
When Paul first boxed, many suspected, like so many other celebrity fights, that his contests would bring a lot of hype but little sporting substance. However, he has quieted skeptics with his devotion to improving his fight skills and his last four victories have all been against MMA athletes — Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley (twice) and Anderson Silva.
Outside the ring, he has shown commitment to the sweet science by promoting the rights of female fighters and promised to do the same in MMA.
“I am aligned with PFL to evolve the sport,” Paul added. “I believe in PFL, their mission and what they have accomplished in a very short period of time. I invite all top MMA fighters, both men and women, to join the PFL and get a payday like they’ve never had before.”
The PFL statement indicated that the Super Fight division will stage two events this year and is “open for business” immediately. Its most eye-catching element is the promise of a groundbreaking revenue split that will see fighters earn at least 50% of the PPV take. Paul has been a critic of Dana White and repeatedly claimed the UFC chief underpays his fighters.
As well as fighting for PFL, Paul will also undertake a role as Head of Fighter Advocacy, where it is expected he will use his huge social-media platforms to boost interest in the league.
Paul’s most recent fight was a unanimous points decision victory over UFC legend Anderson Silva on October 29.
His move to MMA is another bold step that will inevitably cause some to question whether he can possibly be competitive, given his limited experience in the sport.
If Paul has shown anything up to this point, it is that he should not be underestimated.
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