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Jake Paul, Francis Ngannou disagree about the viability of a fighters’ union across boxing and MMA

Jake Paul has been banging the drum about starting a fighters’ union almost since he first laced up his boxing gloves for the first time but he’s met plenty of resistance about the chances that he’ll ever be successful spearheading that cause.

Talk about creating a union in combat sports has been happening for years but to date, nobody has successfully managed to coalesce a big enough number of fighters to actually take a meaningful stand when dealing with promoters and organizations across boxing and mixed martial arts.

In a candid conversation from the latest episode of the Sports Emmy award winning series The Shop from LeBron James and Maverick Carter’s Uninterrupted, Paul argued why he believes a fighters’ union is the only solution to fix major problems like the massive pay gap between the top athletes in a promotion like the UFC versus the biggest named boxers in the world.

“The fighters can band together,” Paul said in an exclusive clip. “We can. My ultimate goal is to create a fighters’ union. It needs to be done. It seems impossible and maybe it will be but that’s how.

“People say ‘Jake, how are you going to create a fighters’ union? They’ll just shelf all the fighters in the fighters’ union.’ No, everyone comes together and we’re not fighting.”

The argument against Paul’s idea for a fighters’ union is exactly what UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou brought up when the discussion started.

As he approaches free agency at the end of 2022, Ngannou understands the difficulty in standing up to an organization as large as the UFC, especially for fighters who don’t have the same kind of leverage that he possesses.

“They cannot come together,” Ngannou countered. “It’s very complicated. Because financially if somebody has to rely on you to pay his bills because you’re controlling his wallet, how much he gets, and you can do whatever you want, of course he cannot stand up against you.

“How are you going to feed those people? Because a lot of them after eight months, after eight weeks of training camp, after four months of not fighting, they’re broke.”

Ngannou makes a valid point because many fighters — even those competing in the UFC — often times live paycheck to paycheck based on how frequently they might be booked not to mention many others who still maintain a second job just to make ends meet.

That’s where Paul believes fighters at the top of the sport need to step up to help those at the bottom so a union could eventually help everybody equally.

“I’ll call upon the 10 biggest boxers, the 10 highest paid boxers and 10 highest paid people from the UFC,” Paul said. “Yo, why can you donate $200,000 to the union to help pay these fighters for the six months? Are you that selfish? Floyd Mayweather. ‘Canelo’ [Alvarez], who makes $50 million a fight. ‘Canelo,’ you can’t donate $200,000 to this union? I’ll donate $500,000. I’ll donate $1 million so we can pay the fighters.

“I’m in for a million. I can raise more than that. But I’m saying the money we put into the union, can help pay the fighters who aren’t getting paid as much in the interim.”

During the episode, Paul and Ngannou also discuss the longstanding debate over fighter pay as “The Predator” seeks better compensation from the UFC not to mention the freedom to pursue outside interests such as a potential showdown with Tyson Fury that could earn a massive, life-changing payday in one night.

The full episode of Uninterrupted ‘The Shop’ drops on Friday at 12 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT on YouTube as Paul and Ngannou are also joined by Maverick Carter as well as writer/comedian Amber Ruffin and musician Romeo Santos.