Ben Parrish hopes to take the momentum accumulated in his Bellator debut and parlay that into an exclusive contract with the promotion – and a chance to welcome Jake Paul into the world of MMA.
For a good cause, of course.
“Big Tuna” returns to the Bellator cage on Saturday when he faces Sullivan Cauley at Bellator 273. The event takes place at the Footprint Center in Phoenix, and the heavyweight matchup serves on the preliminary card on MMA Fighting.
Parrish has seen the attention Paul has garnered in the boxing world. He’s heard Scott Coker express interest in signing the undefeated boxer to Bellator. If that’s actually the case, he has an interesting offer for the YouTube star.
“I just partnered up with a huge foundation against bullying, it’s like a charity, Jake Paul’s got a charity for anti-bullying, but I know what we won’t do and that’s do a winner takes all purse live on Showtime in Bellator MMA where the winner’s foundation gets the money,” Parrish told MMA Fighting. “I bet you he won’t game up to nothing like that because I’m his size, and I don’t do steroids.
“I’m all for it. I’d box him or fight in him in MMA. I don’t care.”
Paul, along with his older brother Logan Paul, has created a ripple effect in the boxing world using a boxing vs. MMA model that has led to capacity crowds and surprising buyrates. Paul has two wins over former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, including a vicious knockout in their second meeting this past December, and a first-round stoppage of Ben Askren this past April.
Parrish doesn’t understand the appeal the Paul brothers have been generating in the combat sports world, but he knows it’s real.
“I don’t want to sound like a hater because I kind of got props for them guys in a way because I watched their first little streamer boxer event,” Parrish said. “I play some online video games so we looked at it like, ‘Look at all of these pencil neck geeks who are gonna fight each other.’ I watched it, and now look where we’re at. I watched that KSI [vs.] Logan Paul event and it was terrible, now look where we’re at. [Logan’s] fighting Floyd Mayweather, the other one’s beating up Woodley who is a welterweight when he’s 200 pounds, and people are just eating it up.
“People keep telling me, ‘I want to see you fight Jake Paul. I want to see you fight Logan Paul.’ Well I want to fight them too because it would be the easiest and most money I’ve ever made. Are you kidding me?”
Parrish made his Bellator debut at September’s Bellator 266 and knocked out heavy favorite Christian Edwards in the first round. He now meets Cauley, another undefeated prospect and protege of heavyweight champion Ryan Bader, who looks to improve his pro and Bellator record to 3-0 after a pair of opening-round finish victories.
Heading into the bout, Parrish is on the tail end of a two-fight option deal with Bellator. A win puts him in a great position to earn a multi-fight deal, though the 29-year-old believes he’ll be competing in the Bellator cage for the foreseeable future, regardless of the outcome.
“Me and him are probably going to engage in Bellator’s most violent fight of 2022,” Parrish explained. “I would love nothing more than for Scott Coker to retire me from the work force and let me really ride this dragon to take this castle over and see what he’s got planned for me. But I’m telling you this right now, they’re signing me win, lose, or draw because of what I’m bringing on the 29th.
“I’m knocking him the f*ck out.” And if I don’t knock him out, I’m gonna submit him.”