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Jake Paul turns down Daniel Cormier, shifts attention to Nate Diaz: ‘I’ll be undeniable to fight Conor’

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UFC 261: Usman v Masvidal 2 Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Jake Paul isn’t keen on fighting Daniel Cormier in the cage, just like he’s not keen on fighting the world’s best boxers in their chosen art. In both cases, he’d be at a disadvantage.

That’s why the answer to Cormier’s recent call for an MMA fight is a no.

“I find it funny, because he’s challenging me to something I’ve never trained in,” Paul told ESPN on Tuesday. “And he’s trained boxing and striking and standup and has been in there with Stipe [Miocic and] Jon Jones.

“He lost those fights, but he’s been in there with the best of the best striking, so why not box? Oh, you want to go against me in something that I’ve never trained in before? Of course. That’s like me finding someone off the streets, literally who has never boxed a day in their lives, and being like, ‘Alright, come in here, I’m going to challenge him.’”

This past Saturday at UFC 261, Cormier responded verbally – and almost physically – to a challenge Paul issued in the wake of his knockout win over Ben Askren, Cormier’s longtime friend. Security got between the two before the situation could escalate, but the end result was a formal challenge from Cormier – only in MMA.

To Paul, that misses the entire point of his career in combat sports. He is trying to make the most money boxing the biggest opponents in the shortest timeframe possible. He is not trying to be an MMA fighter.

Cormier, a wrestler by trade but also a seasoned striker after a decade-plus in MMA, fits the bill. And the fact that he appears resolute on not fighting in the ring is telling to Paul.

“Of course, he’s going to duck the boxing offer,” he said. “And by the way, there’s way more money in boxing, so we would make more money in a boxing match. And again, I’m a boxer. I never said that I will beat Daniel Cormier in an MMA fight. If he comes and boxes me, I will beat him. And maybe a part of him knows that, which is why it’s funny. Why would he not accept that offer? If we fought, that would be the most amount of money that he will ever make in any of his fights, by far.”

Although such a fight could draw 2 million pay-per-view buys, Paul estimated, there’s more to it than that. He loves playing the disruptor in the combat sports space, and he believes in the talent that’s led him to three knockout wins.

But making enemies in MMA has only increased his chances of getting the right fights, where the challenge is competitive and the payoff is exponential.

“The biggest pay-per-view of all time was boxing vs. MMA – Floyd vs. Conor,” he said. “So why not keep with that model? And I believe I’m a better striker than 99.9 percent of these MMA guys. When we’re matching up from a skill/experience level, it’s even, and it’s really who wants it more in the fight. If I’m going up against these boxers that have been doing it since they were six years old, it’s an unfair advantage.”

If Cormier won’t agree to a meeting in the squared circle, Paul said, a matchup with Tyron Woodley would be “definitely interesting.” So would a fight with Tommy Fury, the half-brother of heavyweight boxing king Tyson Fury. But they aren’t exactly the draws that appeal to him.

That’s why Nate Diaz is at the top of his list.

“I think people will immediately write me off,” Paul said. “Even someone watching this interview right now is like, ‘Oh, this kid’s crazy. Nate Diaz is such a dog, he’s going to kill Jake, he’s out of his mind.’ But they’re going to tune in and watch, right?

“It’s two massive names, and it would be a massive pay-per-view, and then when they see me obliterate him, they’re jaws are going to be dropped – they’re not going to know how to react. They’re going to think it’s rigged again. And at that moment in time, I’ll be undeniable to fight Conor McGregor, because I beat the guy that beat you, Conor. And the Jake Paul vs. Conor fight is a massive fight. I’m like, why wait? I don’t need to be in this sport forever. I’m not trying to get 100 fights. Let’s do the biggest fights right away.”

Diaz is currently booked to face Leon Edwards on May 15 at UFC 262. It’s the second to last fight on his current UFC contract, and Paul can see the star from Stockton, Calif., eventually getting free of his current deal to sign a contract.

Paul said he favors one-fight deals and has entertained offers from other promoters for his next fight. He might end up showing up at UFC 262 to see what kind of heat he can generate with Diaz. After all, he indicated he has the UFC to thank for his run-in with Cormier.

According to Paul, it was the MMA promotion that offered him floor seats to UFC 261 and extra security to watch the event. He showed up with a t-shirt that said, “Where’s my money, Dana?” – a nod to White’s alleged $1 million bet on Askren.

“I think they understand the business of me being there,” he said. “Why else would they put me on the screen to get booed by the whole crowd? It’s good for everyone.”

“I was there as a spectator to support my friend, [Jorge] Masvidal,” he added. “But I knew it was probably going to get wild, but I didn’t think it was going to be that crazy. These fighters are fighting in the cage, and the crowd is just chanting Jake Paul the whole entire time, which is crazy to me. It just added to the spectacle. They just wouldn’t stop chanting it, which again, gives me more content, builds my brand and makes me the focus of the whole entire event.”

When Cormier approached him and verbally threatened him but did not physically engage, Paul took it as another win.

“He said, ‘If I ever see Jake Paul, I’m going to slap him,’” Paul said. “‘I’m going to slap him in the face.’ And then he sees he, I’m right there, arms length, and he does nothing. It’s funny to me.’ I saw he said something about like, ‘Oh, I couldn’t have beaten him up because I’m at work and I would’ve gotten in trouble.’ Like bro, are you about you your sh*t, or are you not about you sh*t? Dana White wouldn’t have done anything if you wanted to lay hands on me. You had your chance, and you b*tched out. And it’s embarrassing. And you’re an embarrassment, and you’re not a man of your word. Like I said, these guys man, they have something twisted up in their mind. They don’t see reality, how it’s really playing out. Actions speak louder than words, and their words to me at this point are worthless.”

Paul clarified that his assessment of Cormier didn’t apply to the ex-champ’s competitive resume. But when it comes to actions, he has no problem calling out his MMA counterparts for a lack thereof.

On Tuesday, UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman, who knocked out Paul’s friend at UFC 261, stood up for Cormier and issued a callout to the YouTube star. As ever, Paul was there on social media to call the bluff.

Realistic or not, Paul believes he wins either way.

Check out the full interview below.