Chael Sonnen doesn’t believe Jake Paul’s combat sports career is over.
To the three-time UFC title challenger and MMA pundit, Paul’s loss to Tommy Fury on Sunday could wind up engaging fans – they’ll stick around to see the YouTuber turned boxer’s comeback.
“Losses a lot of times can really hurt people,” Sonnen said Monday on The MMA Hour. “The whole reason Roy Jones is still fighting and isn’t a millionaire is because nobody can beat him, or the fact that Jon Jones sells tickets that are dressed up like empty seats, thousands and thousands of, because nobody can beat him. If he would have loss somewhere in there, if you would have just created the idea in somebody’s mind that you were [beatable].”
Fury outpointed Paul on two of three judges’ scorecards. Afterward, Paul targeted an immediate rematch with his rival made possible by a reported clause in their fight contract.
Since then, fight fans have weighed in on Paul’s likely next move – and whether fans will follow it. But according to Sonnen, that doesn’t apply to the younger Paul.
“I don’t know that a loss hurts – a loss just helps to add the validity, helps to make it real,” he said. “If he would have won that fight, there’d be a lot of people are claiming work. A lot of people claiming work on this whole experience in the first place, which they shouldn’t be. ... We have to live with this level of ridiculousness. So no, I think that a loss sometimes is just what an honest adjudication has. I don’t have a problem with it.”
A similar principle was true for Sonnen’s career in combat sports. Fans didn’t show up because he had the best record – he lost all three of his title shots after becoming a star and then lost several high-profile bouts. They still watched because he made them care about him.
Fury vs. Paul bookended a busy weekend of combat sports with events from Bellator, UFC, BKFC and ONE. Then there was an exhibition bout between retired boxing great Floyd Mayweather and reality star turned fighter Aaron Chalmers. But the Sunday fight did draw a tremendous amount of interest online, and Paul claimed he made $30 million in defeat.
Sonnen does have some advice for the people handling Paul’s career. The 45-year-old retired fighter thinks the idea to place the Fury vs. Paul fight on a Sunday was a huge misstep.
“I mean, the fact that it was on ESPN+ and I didn’t know that truly does piss me off,” he said. “Somebody really failed to do that. ... If anybody is fighting on a Sunday, I don’t care. If you’re fighting on a Sunday, I’m out, just so you understand. If you choose the Lord’s Day to go into a fight, I’m out.”