Daniel Cormier doesn’t want to fight Jake Paul, but if it has to happen, it’s going to be in Cormier’s world.
The former UFC light heavyweight and heavyweight champion drew one of the loudest reactions on Saturday during a stacked UFC 261 event in Jacksonville, Fla., when he went face-to-face with YouTube star and combat sports interloper Jake Paul. Paul had already drawn the ire of the crowd just by making an appearance at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena, with chants of “F*ck Jake Paul” echoing throughout the arena, but the situation reached a fever pitch when Cormier confronted Paul.
On Monday, Cormier addressed the incident on ESPN, explaining that it was almost surreal to actually run into Paul after the two had previously exchanged threats over social media.
“There are a lot of things that I can handle in my life,” Cormier said. “One, is like I feel like this guy’s being like that, disrespectful, talking in a way that I don’t feel he would do to my face. I can’t deal with that. So I was sitting at the table and somebody was like, ‘Jake Paul’s here.’ So I look behind me and he’s like making faces at me and waving at me. I’m like, ‘What in the world is happening?’
According to Cormier, he asked the production team if he could leave his place at the broadcasting table for two minutes in between fights, but was told he couldn’t. When he insisted, he was given his time and he used it to confront Paul. He claims that Paul didn’t have much to say back to him until security entered the picture.
“This guy’s being so ridiculous, I need to tell him something,” Cormier said. “So I just walk over there and he kind of leans in like we’re going to have a conversation and his hands were in his pocket. I said, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna play your games. Don’t mess with me.’ I’m not a kid to play with like this. I’m not gonna be on the internet, messing around and all this other stuff. I go, ‘Keep my name out of your mouth.’
“And then security came and once the security got around he started to play big boy a little bit, starts trying to point and do all that. But initially his hands were in his pocket and he kind of leans in and I say, ‘I’m not gonna play your game.’ I said, ‘You’re gonna get yourself hurt messing around. I’m not gonna fight with you and play those public shenanigans.’ I go, ‘Keep my name out of your mouth.’ He said, ‘Well, you said my name first.’ I said, ‘Don’t play with me. Don’t play with me. I’m not a kid to me messing around with like that.’”
Cormier and Paul were caught on video getting into a heated exchange, though there was no actual physicality between the two. However, Cormier admits that were the circumstances different and he not at his place of work, it could have gone much worse for Paul.
“I wanted to grab his face,” Cormier said. “I was gonna grab him by the face, but I would have got in trouble by the UFC. Listen, a kid like that, you alpha a kid like that. You alpha him. I wanted to grab him by the face and smash him to the ground, but I can’t do that at work, I would have got into a lot of trouble. So I just went over there and tried to have a conversation with the kid and then security comes and all that and he’s like, ‘Sign the contract.’ I’m like, ‘Come on. Sign the contract, what are you talking about, ‘sign the contract?’’ What contract are you referring to? ‘Oh, sign the contract.’ What are you talking about? There is no contract.
“You don’t punch down to go do all that, but come on, dude. You can talk and act like that with certain people. Not everybody. Not everybody’s gonna do that. You start messing with certain people, they’re gonna tell you about what they’re feeling.”
Cormier gave Paul credit for making himself a prominent name in the combat sports world in a short period of time. The social media star made his pro boxing debut in 2020 with a pair of wins over YouTuber AnEnsonGib and longtime NBA veteran Nate Robinson, then officially made himself a notorious name in the MMA world when he knocked out former Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren at a Triller Fight Club event last weekend.
It was Cormier’s public comments about that fight that caught Paul’s attention and prompted him to challenge Cormier to a boxing match. “DC” has no interest in it, stating that it doesn’t compare to Conor McGregor’s massive boxing match with Floyd Mayweather because Paul has nowhere near the athletic accomplishments of Mayweather.
“I don’t want to fight Jake Paul,” Cormier said. “But I’m not gonna let Jake Paul disrespect me. Let me tell you one thing about Jake Paul and I’ll refer back to the Conor McGregor deal. Conor went to fight Floyd, made a ton of money, because he had to. Floyd Mayweather is the greatest boxer of all time, so you go play on his playing field. Why would I go and box Jake Paul? Who I am doesn’t make me chase anything. I made my money as the heavyweight champion of the world. I don’t have to chase a payday.
“This kid wants to fight, okay, I’ll fight him. But it will be a mixed martial arts competition. If he wants to actually fight with me, fight me in mixed martial arts and then I’ll fight him all the way down at 205. I’m living fat and happy and healthy, I’ll go all the way down to 205 to fight this kid in mixed martial arts. If you really want to fight me, like seriously fight me, fight me in mixed martial arts. This is not going to be fun. I’m telling you right now, at 42 years old, bad back and everything, I’m going to torture him and I’m going to hurt him. I don’t want to box him, I don’t want to fight in a limited skill set of rules. If you want to fight me, you really want to fight me, fight me in a mixed martial arts competition. I’ll go all the way back to 205 and I’m going to smash him and I’m going to hurt him and then he can go back to fighting these YouTube kids.
“But don’t think for a second that I would ever chase a payday in boxing because I don’t need it. I’m good. I made my money as the champion of the world. If you want to really fight me, you got an issue with me, fight me in mixed martial arts and I’m going to torture you and I’m going to rip his face apart and I’m gonna hurt the kid. I will teach these kids not to continue to do this with people like me, athletes. I will hurt the kid.”
Cormier didn’t pinpoint what it is exactly about Paul that has caused him such aggravation, other than Paul’s general attitude toward fighting and his opponents so far. He especially didn’t appreciate that Paul would consider him to be the next logical challenge after Askren just because of their shared veteran status.
And while he doubled and tripled down on not feeling compelled to fight Paul, Cormier made it clear that if business has to be taken care of, he will step into the cage with him.
“For you to take offense and think, ‘Okay, I just beat Ben Askren, now I’m gonna pick on this other guy, this older guy, DC’s out of shape’—which I am,” Cormier said. “No, you’re not gonna do that. My name will not be used as a springboard. I love my legacy and I will protect my legacy and if protecting my legacy means I gotta smack this kid upside his head, that’s what I have to do.”