Four months ago, it felt like there wasn’t anything left to be said about the Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley rivalry.
Now, we find ourselves just a day away from the two squaring off in the ring again.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Paul’s split nod over Woodley in their first encounter this past August looked to be the end of it, despite the bout being relatively uneventful and Woodley immediately campaigning for a rematch. Paul demanded that Woodley follow through on a pre-match tattoo bet, which Woodley appeared to do (though he recently played coy when asked to show it to the media), only for Paul to go on to book an anticipated fight with British reality TV star Tommy Fury on Dec. 18.
Less than two weeks out from fight night, Fury withdrew, citing a rib injury and a chest infection, and the ever-eager Woodley suddenly found himself with an unexpected shot at redemption. All that’s left is for the former UFC welterweight champion to actually win a fight, something he hasn’t done in over three years.
Paul has yet to taste defeat in his brief boxing career, claiming the scalps of Woodley, Ben Askren, and longtime NBA veteran Nate Robinson. The Fury fight would have likely drawn massive interest, especially on the international stage, but if he can put on a more impressive performance against Woodley and perhaps even knock out “The Chosen One,” it would cap off what has been an impressive year for the combat sports neophyte.
We’ve gathered an MMA Fighting roundtable of Shaheen Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Steven Marrocco, Damon Martin, and Jed Meshew to break this one down and figure out whether the second verse will be the same as the first or if we’ll see a new outcome on the cusp of a new year.
Something feels a bit weird this time around, doesn’t it? You sense it. I sense it. We all do. The vibe is off. Maybe that’s to be expected considering the circumstances, but hey, strange stuff can happen when a big fight gets swapped out for an anticlimactic rematch at the last second. Just ask Luke Rockhold. No one except Woodley wanted this outcome, least of all Paul. His disappointment this week is palpable. That emotional letdown may mean nothing in the long run, but something unusual is in the air in Tampa.
At the risk of sounding like the stupidest, most gullible human being alive, I just don’t see how “The Frozen One” can make another appearance on Saturday. Not after the embarrassment he went through in August.
There’s no way Woodley, who was once on the short list of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters alive, will let Paul, of all people, catch two easy wins over him simply through his own infuriating passivity. His pride won’t allow it. Call me a sucker, but the blood gods are up to some mischief this time around — Woodley will march out there Saturday like he did against Vicente Luque and fight with a righteous fury, and somehow this rematch no one wanted is going to turn into the most bizarre trilogy imaginable.
I know I sound like the living embodiment of the Jesse Pinkman meme right now, but — God help me — I believe in T-Wood.
This fight will be different from the first one, but not in the way that MMA fans are probably hoping for. If you believe that all Woodley had to do in the first fight was show more aggression and a greater willingness to pull the trigger, then in that sense you’ll be pleasantly surprised as I expect him to come out with more fire and urgency (not that that’s saying much given his recent performances).
Woodley stung Paul once in the first fight and with a better understanding of his opponent’s tendencies, he’ll find even more openings the second time around and do some real damage. There may even be moments that remind us why he was once considered the best welterweight in the world.
But aggression comes with a price and when you’re four months shy of your 40th birthday, those instincts and reflexes aren’t quite what they used to be. At some point in the later rounds, Woodley will rush in, get clocked by Paul, and get knocked out bad. Like, Nate Robinson bad. Like, Woodley retires afterward bad. And Paul marches on to his inevitable clash with Tommy Fury next year.
Will Woodley go after Paul? I’m sure he will. There’s no way he wants the last memory of his time with the YouTuber to be the boo-fest that broke out in the later rounds of their first fight. There’s also a nice $500,000 reward to go on top of what I’m sure is another healthy purse — augmented by Showtime, Woodley hinted — to save the pay-per-view.
Will that matter in how the fight actually plays out, though? Unlike the last fight, Paul has a head start in conditioning and training. And if there’s anything he and his brother have proved during their short-lived careers, it’s that they can be pretty elusive when they want to be. So yes, Woodley may come out with more heat, but I suspect Paul will play it safe, fighting behind his jab and staying mobile to avoid firefights and win rounds. It would be foolish to do otherwise with lucrative matchups on the horizon. So in the end, it may be a marginally more exciting fight than the first, but I doubt it will be the slugfest that everyone hopes for.
Paul by decision.
Woodley had no one to blame but himself for losing to Paul last time because he legitimately looked like the better fighter that night, he just couldn’t pull the trigger to get the job done. Perhaps the short-notice opportunity with far less time spent exchanging nasty messages with a social influencer will help Woodley just stay focused on the fight rather than the constant distractions that come along with a Paul fight.
That said, Paul has endured a full training camp and he didn’t look his best against Woodley, which means he probably has something to prove. It could force Paul to engage more on the feet and that could be a recipe for disaster against a legit power-puncher like Woodley. The real question becomes can Woodley unleash the fury (no pun intended) and finish Paul? This time around, I’m saying the former UFC champion lets his hands go, connects with something big and sets up a trilogy bout with Paul — and an even bigger payday —in 2022.
“Will Paul beat Woodley again?” Of course he will! Why is this even a question?
Heading into their first fight, the prevailing wisdom was that Paul is bigger and younger than Woodley and had shown some aptitude for boxing, which was probably enough to carry him past the faded, nearly 40-year-old version of Woodley he’d be facing — and that’s exactly what happened! Now you think that an even older version of Woodley facing the same guy — who has proven he can take Woodley’s biggest shots and has likely only improved over the past few months — is going to wilt this time around? Come on.
Even at his peak, Woodley was prone to long stretches of inactivity that made him susceptible to losing to even bad fighters who could simply outwork him. In the twilight stretch of his career, that propensity turned nearly calamitous, and it figures to only worsen. Once you get gun shy, there’s no going back. For Woodley to win this, he’d have to come out swinging for the fences and prepared to go out on his shield in the first two rounds – get or get got.
But that’s not who “The Chosen One” is, and it’s not what will happen this weekend. Paul will jab his way to an even more convincing victory over Woodley this weekend, and Tyron’s combat sports career may well be over after that.
How does the Jake Paul-Tyron Woodley rematch end?
This poll is closed
Paul by decision
Paul by knockout
Woodley by decision
Woodley by knockout
Other (draw, DQ, no contest, etc.)