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MMA fighter Raush Manfio spars with Jake Paul, sees no path to victory for Ben Askren

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Raush Manfio and Jake Paul pose after a five-round sparring session in Miami.
Photo via Raush Manfio

YouTube celebrity turned boxer Jake Paul has enlisted MMA fighter Raush Manfio as one of his sparring partners ahead of a boxing match with Bellator and ONE welterweight champion Ben Askren on April 17.

Manfio, who scored seven of his 11 professional MMA wins via knockout, predicts a rough night for Askren.

Paul, who holds a 2-0 record as a professional boxer, is hiring MMA fighters as sparring partners for the upcoming match. Manfio was approached this past Wednesday by his friend Fernando Fio, a retired MMA fighter, to assist Paul. Manfio took a one-hour drive to Miami the next day to get paid $150 for a five-round sparring session.

“I do it for free in the gym, so that’s even better,” Manfio laughed during an interview with MMA Fighting. “We did five rounds of pure boxing. They had a referee there, it was all very professional. That kid works hard. He has a whole team working with him, not a bunch of yes-men. He trains really hard and he’s big, so I had to be alert at all times. It wasn’t easy. We trained hard.”

Manfio, who competes at 155 pounds in MMA, said he asked Paul’s team if he should emulate a boxer or do something specific Askren might try on April 17, but he was told to “just do my thing.”

Manfio said Paul “isn’t a high-level boxer, but I can guarantee you he’s working hard to become one,” and sees no path to victory for Askren in the eight-round contest.

“I believe Ben Askren can take a punch, but Jake Paul has knockout power,” he said. “If Askren goes in there to trade hands, he’s going down. No doubt. He’s going down. [Paul] has a powerful right hand, and he’s getting smarter in the ring, not getting scared or stuff like that, things you learn with time. I’m a professional MMA fighter since 2011 and I get mature as time goes by, you understand the sport, but [Paul] has firepower and that’s crucial.

“In my opinion, what is Askren going to do? For him to win, only if he gets Jake Paul tired. But how is he going to get him tired if he doesn’t have heavy hands? How is he going to hurt him? What is he going to do? I can only see Jake Paul winning by knockout or points, Jake Paul is far superior. I can’t see one weapon [Askren] can use. If he was like a Dan Henderson type of fighter with a powerful overhand, that would be a different conversation.

“[Paul] has knockout power and cardio. Meanwhile, [Askren] might have a chin but doesn’t have firepower to drop him, so I don’t see how Askren wins this match.”

In the MMA sphere, Manfio (11-3) is currently assisting fellow American Top Team fighters help prepare for their upcoming bouts. Currently, he doesn’t have anything lined up and hasn’t fought since losing his Titan FC belt via decision to Sidney Outlaw in June 2018; he said he’s had nine fights cancelled since then. Manfio says he’s a free agent in MMA, and hopes to secure an impressive win next to secure a spot in the big leagues.