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Daniel Cormier shrugs off Jake Paul challenge: ‘I would kill him’

Daniel Cormier
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Daniel Cormier isn’t taking the bait.

Following a first-round knockout of former ONE and Bellator champion Ben Askren this past Saturday, Jake Paul has begun to solicit for his next boxing match and several fighters have already volunteered their services including Tyron Woodley and B.J. Penn.

Woodley cornered Askren against Paul, so that clash of personalities was seemingly inevitable. Boxer J’Leon Love has jumped to Paul’s defense and offered to fight Woodley himself, a suggestion that Paul finds appealing after Cormier addressed the Woodley-Love beef.

“Okay fat boy,” Paul said, responding to Cormier on Twitter. “So me vs. you and [Love] vs. [Woodley]?”

While the former two-division UFC champion is happy to engage with Paul on social media, he’s shooting down the possibility of them ever fighting, citing a considerable gap in their combat sports credentials.

“This dude would never fight me,” Cormier said on ESPN (transcription via Bad Left Hook). “I would kill him. Why would I ever fight someone like that?” Cormier said. “But my immediate reaction was, ‘I can’t stand this kid.’ So it works! I can’t stand this kid! But who punches down? You don’t punch down to somebody. I’m the guy that’s in the Hall of Fame. I’m the guy that won two world championships at the same time.

“I’m not gonna punch down to some kid that’s on YouTube that’s, like, ‘Fight me!’ Like, why? What have you done to earn the right to fight me? So, no, it’s silly and stupid. But I would like him to fight Tyron. I would like to see him fight somebody more real. Don’t fight Ben Askren at 190, bloated.

“Fight a middleweight. Fight Luke Rockhold! Let me see you fight Luke Rockhold or somebody like that. And then I will not only say that you have base skills, I will say you’re a real fighter. Because right now it’s all pretend. It’s all pretend.”

It’s not surprising that other fighters have called for the Paul matchup, not just because of the social media maven’s ability to provoke a reaction, but because of the potentially lucrative payday that awaits should Paul and his team choose them. Saturday’s Triller Fight Club event reportedly sold over one million pay-per-view buys and Askren himself said afterwards that he expects to “take about a million dollars home in the bank” from the fight.

As for Paul’s actual skills, it’s difficult to say whether the 24-year-old actually has a future in boxing given his limited experience so far and the freakshow nature of his first few fights (Paul’s other conquests as a pro include another YouTuber and former NBA player Nate Robinson). But Cormier is giving credit where it’s due, at least while Paul is still in the nascent stages of his fighting career.

“It’s time to stop calling this kid a YouTuber, because the kid has the understanding and fundamentals of boxing,” Cormier said. “Are they high level fundamentals? No, but he does understand.”

“If he continues to fight guys like this, he will continue to look as he’s looked. But the moment he fights somebody that has a better understanding of boxing, that combination isn’t going to land as effectively, and even if it does, he’s not gonna just be putting these dudes out. Guys are gonna start rolling with the punch, they’re gonna stop reacting so bad to the jab to the body.”

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