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Jake Paul says he’s a free agent, open to working with Dana White to make crossover boxing bouts happen

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Jake Paul
Getty Images for Triller

YouTuber Jake Paul has butted heads over social media with several notable UFC fighters, and if he ever wants those fights to happen, he may have to learn to co-exist with Dana White.

During an appearance on Chael Sonnen’s You’re Welcome podcast, Paul didn’t rule out the possibility of working with White, but the unbeaten celebrity boxer reiterated qualms he has with the way the UFC boss does business; specifically, his belief that the average UFC fighter is underpaid and that something has to be done about it.

“I’m a free agent,” Paul said, when asked about his status with Triller, the organization that promoted his recent boxing bout against Ben Askren. “Look, I think that’s the way it should be with all fighters. It just sucks to see these young kids, these young boxers, these young UFC champions get tied up into these contracts where they’re owned by the promoter. They’re owned by Dana White and they’re not getting fair pay, they’re not getting the fights they want. It’s a big problem. How is Arianny Celeste—she’s a ring girl, right?—how is she making more money than some of the fighters in the octagon who are risking their lives? It doesn’t make sense to me and it’s just a big problem.

“I’m hoping to help change that and just help fighters realize they are the content. They are the ones that the fans are showing up for. They are the ones that are driving these pay-per-views. They’re the ones risking their lives and they should be rewarded for that.”

Paul has been so active with his callouts that he’s even caught the attention of UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, widely regarded as one of the top pound-for-pound fighters in all of MMA. Usman and Paul had an exchange on social media, with Usman threatening, “I can change your life in the worst way.”

White recently told ESPN that he doesn’t plan to loan out anyone on his roster to make them available for a boxing match with Paul, but now Paul is saying that he would have no issue having White be part of the arrangement if the money is right.

“Look, there’s conversations happening,” Paul said. “I believe Kamaru’s manager is already in talks with Dana and I think that’s all I can say. A hundred percent, I’m down for all the smoke. I want all the smoke. Daniel Cormier, another example.”

In regards to Cormier, Paul is still in disbelief that he had a close encounter with the former two-division UFC champion while in attendance at UFC 261 in Jacksonville, Fla. Cormier actually took a moment during the pay-per-view broadcast to approach Paul and later shared a similar attitude as Usman, stating that he would “rip [Paul’s] face apart” in an MMA fight.

All of that chatter has only helped to give Paul more notoriety and, as far as he’s concerned, more credibility.

“It was crazy to me,” Paul said. “I was like, ‘Is this guy really doing this right now?’ I’m just here as a spectator, he comes over and I’m like, ‘Bro, Daniel, you’re playing into my game plan here.’ You could have just ignored me, went on with your day. But instead I think he was just trying to intimidate me. I think he was really trying to check to see if I was really about this sh*t, if I was going to get scared.

“Because a lot of people see I’m on Twitter saying all this sh*t, I have blonde hair, I’m dressed like an assh*le, I look like a little celebrity kid who you can probably intimidate, and I think he was legitimately coming over there to check me to see if I was going to get scared by the former heavyweight champion of the world. I’m really about this life. I think I can say that with a lot of credibility now. So that’s what I think it was initially about. He was really trying to get in my face and I was like, ‘Daniel, sign the contract.’ What I meant by that was let’s make a fight happen. If you want to come over here, get face to face, tell me to keep your name out of my mouth, why not fight? That would be one of the biggest paydays you’ve ever had. You’re a commentator, Daniel, go back to doing your job. Leave me out of this.”

Now 3-0 as a pro boxer with a growing list of names lining up to hand him his first loss, Paul just wants to see big fights happen, whether he’s part of them or not. He expressed his frustration over how can’t-miss combat sports matchups are often delayed or fail to come to fruition altogether due to politics and business decisions that are beyond the fighters’ control.

Paul pointed to the Francis Ngannou vs. Jon Jones negotiations that have been discussed for well over a year now with no resolution in sight.

“Especially now more than ever,” Paul said. “How come these big heavyweights, [Anthony] Joshua vs. [Tyson] Fury, how come that fight’s not happening? Quite frankly, that’s the fight we all want to see. How come these things aren’t happening? The whole lightweight division in boxing. Jon Jones vs. Francis, why isn’t this happening? Because of payment. Dana, give these guys $10 million each plus pay-per-view and make the fight happen. There’s gotta be a way.”