Jake Paul might have picked the wrong MMA champion to mess with this time around.
On Saturday, Paul fights Anderson Silva, a beloved combat sports legend who reigned over the UFC middleweight division for six and a half years, logged 10 consecutive title defenses (the most ever at 185 pounds in the UFC), and won 16 straight fights inside the octagon (also a UFC record). “The Spider” turned 47 this year, but he’s looked rejuvenated by his move to boxing, which includes wins over Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Tito Ortiz.
Paul, on the other hand, has almost single-handedly taken celebrity boxing to a new level, not only because of the competition he’s signed on to face but the fact that he’s said time and time again that he’s serious about becoming a world champion boxer (or at least about taking on world champion boxers). He’s beaten MMA champions, an NBA dunk contest champion, and a YouTuber, but has he finally bitten off more than he can chew? And would a loss to Silva discourage the 25-year-old social media star from going forward with a venture that has gone further than most ever could have expected?
The MMA Fighting roundtable of Mike Heck, Alexander K. Lee, Steven Marrocco, and Jed Meshew are here to discuss the myriad paths that Saturday’s fight could take and in what direction both men could be headed in the aftermath.
Since this Jake Paul the boxer story began with him taking on some prominent names in the world of MMA, the matchup most pundits have been pointing to as Paul’s “true test” is the one he’s going to get on Saturday against former UFC champ — and a man on many an MMA Mount Rushmore — Anderson Silva. To Paul’s credit, he didn’t have to take this fight, yet he wanted to silence the critics, and here we are.
For Silva, I’m just happy to see him happy, aren’t you? His smile and his positive presence are just plain infectious, which I’m here for; not to mention, he’s probably getting a big fat bag of money to do what is making him grin from ear to ear.
From a stylistic perspective, it’s just so tough to call. Silva has tremendous movement, and when he’s in the zone and is feeling himself, he finds success. “The Spider” will certainly bring size, technique, and power that Paul has yet to see inside the squared circle.
Paul, no matter how you feel about him, is going to be the better boxer here. As Tyron Woodley told us, his resources and pockets are deep, so the type of training many fighters dream of, Paul can get at his beck and call. The biggest factor for Paul will be his youth, as he’s more than two decades younger than Silva. That will play a role, for sure.
My prediction is purely based on what my gut is telling me since the other number sticking in my brain is eight, which is how many rounds this bout will be contested in. I believe Silva will be much more aggressive than Woodley was in either of their two matchups and win some rounds early. As the fight goes on, Paul will get going and win some of his own. My pick is going to have short-term disappointment, but a long-term sigh of relief. This one is going to the cards, it’s going to be scored a draw, and it might be controversial.
Short term, we’ll be rolling our eyes with a hint of disgust. In the long run, Silva doesn’t lose and can continue boxing without having to answer the “you lost to Jake Paul” questions. Paul remains unbeaten, his stock will rise having not lost to Silva, and he can go box Nate Diaz sometime in 2023 for a floppity jillion dollars.
My prediction for Jake Paul’s most recent celebrity boxing vs. MMA fight was a grim premonition, one that actually proved to be mostly accurate too as I called that Tyron Woodley would be the victim of a late knockout. Though in my darkest moments, I never could have predicted it would end with the sudden impact that it did.
This time, I’m seeing the light.
Maybe it’s just too macabre for me to envision Paul knocking out a version of Anderson Silva that’s twice his age, but my heart is telling me to back the UFC legend in this one. It’s not just that Silva still passes the eye test in his 25th year of martial arts competition, but this feels like the logical, narrative end to Paul’s foray into boxing. Don’t get me wrong, win or lose, there’s still plenty of money for Paul to make as a fighter, whether he sets up an oft-discussed bout with free agent Nate Diaz, somehow convinces Canelo Alvarez that he’s worthy of stepping into the ring with him, or (gulp) gets Conor McGregor to sign on the dotted line.
But we have to keep in mind that Paul has already mentioned concerns about experiencing concussion symptoms. We also don’t know how he’ll react to his first loss, whether a humbling by a master of the game like Silva will cause him to rethink this whole venture. Most importantly, Paul is rich and he has plenty of options in the entertainment field. He’s 25 years old and part of the YouTube generation. Does that sound like someone who will be stubborn enough to stick with something come hell or high water given that he has plenty of ways to make mountains of cash that don’t involve getting punched in the face and potentially humiliated?
Even removing the question of Paul’s motivation from the equation, I’m still going with Silva. Because it’s Anderson-freaking-Silva! With respect to Woodley and Ben Askren, Silva is leagues beyond them when it comes to striking and just because he has a few less tools to work than usual with doesn’t mean he won’t tune up Paul. This being an eight-round fight, there’s reason to be worried that Paul simply bides his time until the later rounds before uncorking a bomb on Silva’s head like he did to Woodley. That’s a risk we knew existed when we called for Silva to be his next opponent, to be the one to vanquish the interloping Paul. I don’t fear it anymore now than I did when the fight was first announced.
Silva wins a decision while occasionally taking the opportunity to clown Paul, which Paul will laugh off even as he’s helpless to stop it. And when the final bell rings, it might not only signal a Silva victory, but the end of Paul’s time as a boxer.
Breaking this one down, I think about something I heard once from Mike Tyson that boils down to this: In the game of high-level boxing, it’s the milliseconds that count. Whether you’re punching, reacting to a punch, or moving, if you’re a millisecond late, you’re already too slow and you’re going to get hurt.
Anderson Silva is a combat sports savant. Much of his best work in the octagon was with his fists, and more importantly, his ability to see and duck punches, and to punish with pinpoint precision those who attempted to evade him. But like everyone else, he started losing those milliseconds, and he started taking more punishment. People started catching up to him, and it was his time to move on. There’s no shame in that – it happens to everybody.
If Silva is to beat Paul, it’s with the combat sports IQ that allowed him to survive for so long. Paul may be trained by the best money can buy, but there’s nothing that can replace Silva’s time in the gym and in the cage, and on top of that, the Brazilian is a generational talent. That has to be his saving grace, because otherwise, the simple fact is that his reflexes are simply not as fast as his opponent, 22 years his junior, and his brain is not as resilient to take punishment (independent of whatever happened in the training room for this fight). These are the areas where Paul makes up enough ground to potentially cancel out Silva’s innate talents.
Both guys have a lot to lose, so my gut tells me this will be more of a grinding chess match than any “Fight of the Year” candidate. Both will lean heavily on their jabs, trying to cut the right angle to land power shots, and we’ll see lots of clinches as the fight goes into deep waters and both tire. Paul has never fought a really good southpaw before, so I expect him to struggle to adjust to the elusive Silva. The good news is that his opponent has fewer brain-rattling punches to give up on his punch card. The bad is that he’s still a pretty fast sniper whose accuracy ends nights.
It could very well be the controversial decision Mike predicts, though it’s hard for me to see a draw. Paul’s brain trust likely has mapped out a plan to extract a points win from Silva in the safest possible way, and a decision win would not be a surprise for “The Problem Child.” My prediction is that in the end, this matchup will be a lot less compelling in reality as it was on paper.
Anderson Silva is going to dummy Jake Paul.
Look, I’m not here to hate on Paul. He’s not my particular brand of whiskey, but I’ve come around to the fact that whatever his faults are, effort isn’t one of them. The man is not a future world champion boxer, but he also has clearly put in the time, energy, and money to become some who can box a little bit. That should be commended. But there are levels to this game, and Paul is about to find that out.
Riddle me this: how exactly is Paul supposed to win? Paul fans offer a nebulous “Anderson is almost 50! Paul will catch him!” but I can’t think of many things I think are less likely to happen. Silva has been flat KOed once in his entire career (Chris Weidman), and for all the claims of “He’s washed!” Silva remains an excellent defensive fighter. During his final UFC run, Silva wasn’t getting one-shotted every time out a la Chuck Liddell, he was performing decently but getting overwhelmed by volume and power. And that’s the key because I’ll happily stipulate to Paul having some pop in his shots, but this man does not work in combination. He’s throw one and two shots at a time, and against Anderson Silva that’s like trying to harpoon a trout. Good luck, my guy.
Now, as for the age thing, Anderson Silva is almost 50 years old and his MMA career did finish poorly, winning one of his final nine bouts, but here’s the thing, he was fighting actual good fighters! Look at the people he fought in that final run: four UFC champions (one twice and one a two-division champion) two title challengers, and two Top-10 guys. And again, it’s not like Anderson was getting blown out of the water in those fights. Yes, boxing isn’t MMA, but Jake Paul isn’t anything resembling a Top-10 fighter either and in fact, Paul is probably the easiest opponent Anderson will have faced in a decade (your Tito Ortiz mileage may vary).
For me, Paul’s Woodley fights are the most instructive here. It took him 14 rounds to do anything of legitimate note against an opponent he had a huge size advantage over and who was substantially worse than Silva is. Sure, that punch was good, but we’re also talking about one of the most basic feints in boxing and Paul acted like he discovered fire. Well, Anderson is Prometheus, buddy.
This fight is going to look nearly identical to Floyd Mayweather Jr. vs. Conor McGregor. Jake will come out strong but still not land anything of note, Anderson will spend the first round getting reads, realize just how out of Paul’s league he is, and then spend the rest of the fight doing Anderson things: messing around, dancing, waiving Paul in while he intentionally stands in the corner. Hell, Anderson may try to do a full Ali-Dokes recreation just for funsies.
Because Anderson is a professional and he knows where his bread is buttered, my guess is that he carries Paul to the cards. That allows Paul to save face in his first loss and continue his boxing saga with a Nate Diaz match (building towards the eventual showdown with Conor McGregor in what will be the biggest boxing PPV since MayMac), plus it lets Anderson finally have his long-awaited fight with Roy Jones Jr. Jake loses but gets a bump, Anderson keeps the feel good story rocking, and we get two more highly watchable boxing matchups. Everybody wins! Huzzah!
How does Jake Paul vs. Anderson Silva end?
This poll is closed
Paul by decision
Paul by knockout
Silva by decision
Silva by knockout
Other (draw, DQ, no contest, etc.)