The orbits of Jake Paul and Nate Diaz will cross paths for the first time in a significant way on Saturday when one of Diaz’s proteges, former UFC fighter Chris Avila, faces Paul’s sparring partner Anthony Taylor on the undercard of the Paul vs. Woodley 2 boxing event.
For Paul, it may be the potential first step toward a future fight with the UFC superstar.
“Look, there’s a lot of sh*t talk going back and forth, and I would love to make that fight happen, if it’s even possible,” Paul said of Diaz at Wednesday’s open workouts. “I know he’s with the UFC, so whatever happens will happen. But that’s a massive fight, and I think the people need to see that one. I’ve got to get through Tyron, maybe Tommy [Fury]. Who knows? Maybe Nate Diaz, maybe Conor McGregor. The road path is massive right now.”
Paul (4-0, 3 KOs) and Diaz have chirped at one another back and forth on social media and in interviews over recent months. Diaz is currently on the last fight of his UFC deal and could be one of the most sought-after free agents in recent memory in the combat sports space once his contract is done. Despite his current two-fight losing streak in MMA, the Stockton native remains a proven pay-per-view draw.
Paul said Wednesday that he’s “sure there will be some sh*t talk to be said” once the two fighters cross paths ahead of Saturday’s event in Tampa, Fla.
For now, though, Paul’s main focus remains on Tyron Woodley, the former UFC welterweight champion who stepped in as a late replacement for Tommy Fury after Fury suffered a broken rib while preparing for the bout. Paul and Woodley previously fought in August, with Paul winning a split decision — and in Paul’s eyes, Woodley is the tougher fight.
“Tyron’s definitely a harder fight than Tommy Fury,” Paul said. “Way more experienced. Tommy Fury’s never been past four rounds. Tyron Woodley’s been in there with killers, absolute monsters. He’s more experienced, he’s stronger, he’s faster. So Tyron’s definitely a harder fight, but I already handled him, light work the first time. I’ve gotten ever better, sparred 200 rounds since the last fight, and you’re going to see a different version of me.”
Paul added that he believes all the pressure in Saturday’s rematch rests on his shoulders, rather than Woodley’s, simply because of what a loss could mean for the 24-year-old.
“He already lost, so when you do something, it starts to become a habit,” Paul said of Woodley. “When you’re a loser, it becomes a habit. And that’s been the case so far for Tyron. So what does he have here? What career does he have ahead of him? I’m 24 years old, I could take over the world, I could become the next Muhammad Ali at the rate this is going.
“So, what does he have? He has nothing. I have a much bigger story here, a much greater presence, and I’m doing something that no one’s ever done before. For him to win, it doesn’t help the sport, it doesn’t help the world, and no one would really care.”