“My prediction is a fifth-round knockout,” Paul said Wednesday on The MMA Hour.
“I’m not concerned. I know I want it more and I know what I did in training, and we had people that mimic exactly how he fights. And yeah, he’s going to maybe land a couple of punches, that’s the name of the game. That only wakes me up. I’m going to get hit and hit him harder, and keep on going and weather the storm and end his career.”
Paul, 26, faces Diaz in a 10-round boxing bout this weekend at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. The matchup marks Diaz’s professional boxing debut and first pro fight outside of the UFC umbrella since the 38-year-old debuted in the promotion in 2007.
Diaz now joins former UFC champions Tyron Woodley and Anderson Silva, as well as former Bellator and ONE champion Ben Askren, as MMA fighters to face Paul in the boxing ring. And while Paul made it clear that he holds Diaz’s MMA accomplishments in high esteem, he doesn’t think nearly as highly of his brash opponent’s actions outside of the cage.
“I respect his career, I don’t respect him as a person,” Paul said. “There’s a difference. He’s a bully, he’s a punk. He beats up innocent people. He’s always trying to cause a scene, throwing water bottles at people. He’s always high. Like, what kind of example is that to set to everyone, just smoking all the f****** time? I don’t like these things about him. And someone has to bully the bully, and that’s what I’m going to do on Saturday.”
Paul said he’s “not concerned at all in the slightest” whether Diaz’s tendency to instigate fights outside of the cage will rear its head again in Dallas.
What he is concerned about, however, is whether Diaz accepts his offer for a $10 million MMA rematch after the two face off on Saturday. Paul is currently signed with the PFL and is expected to compete within the promotion’s pay-per-view “super fight division” if and when he decides to make his professional MMA debut.
Speaking Wednesday on The MMA Hour, Diaz balked at the idea of fighting Paul in PFL. The Stockton native suggested that if he and Paul do fight in MMA, it would either be in the UFC or as a standalone co-promotion with Diaz’s Real Fight Inc. promotional arm.
Paul responded by stating that PFL would be more than willing to co-promote and called Diaz’s dismissal of the idea “a cheap copout excuse.” He added that he believes Diaz is leaving his answer “open-ended” in order to first see how things play out in the ring.
“Once I beat his ass on Saturday, he’s going to want revenge,” Paul said.
“I think he’ll want that get-back. And he’ll realize that he’s not going to get as much money once he loses to me anywhere else.”
Paul also called his opponent’s embrace of the UFC “weird” after Diaz fought for years to leave the promotion, and publicly feuded with the UFC brass throughout much of that time.
Diaz said Wednesday that his next fight “probably” could be back in the UFC.
“I guess he’s a house boy and loves to kiss the finger of Dana [White], and to be a good ole boy and obey all the rules,” Paul said. “This might be too much work for him honestly. People don’t realize that in boxing when you’re your own promoter, it’s a lot different. There’s more work, there’s more that goes into it, more press requirements.
“So he might not like that. He might like just being a fighter and not caring as much about the business side.”
Either way, Saturday’s fight likely marks the end of Paul’s boxing run against MMA legends. There simply aren’t many MMA names left who’d make sense for Paul if he gets past Diaz.
But there is always one: Conor McGregor.
“Conor McChicken, he don’t want the smoke,” Paul said. “He’s an alcoholic, he’s a drug addict. He’s out there causing all these problems, about to go to jail for all this crazy s***. He’s not even worried about fighting right now. Right now he’s worried about being a free man.”