While Diaz has far more overall experience thanks to his MMA career, Paul holds a 6-1 record in professional boxing with four knockouts, as well as an impressive win over ex-UFC champion Anderson Silva. To add to that, Paul routinely competes at 185 pounds, where the Diaz fight takes place, while the UFC veteran spent the majority of his career at lightweight, which means he’ll be giving up a considerable amount of size and power.
According to UFC welterweight and noted boxing enthusiast Matt Brown, that gives Paul the best chance to win.
“I’m pretty much on the same page as everyone else,” Brown explained on The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I think everybody who’s watching this fight knows Jake is the bigger guy. He has a good right hand. Right hand against southpaw, that’s the weapon of choice.
“He’s probably going to land that right hand a few times. He’s probably going to hurt Nate pretty bad. Probably get a TKO stoppage.”
That said, Brown knows from watching Diaz fight over the past 16 years in the UFC that it’s impossible to just count him out, especially with 10 rounds to work against Paul.
With his non-stop forward aggression, the ability to pour on the punishment and never slow down, Diaz seemingly gets better as he chips away at his opponents over the course of the fight. If Paul can’t end the fight early, Brown believes Diaz could then mount a comeback with a volume striking attack that’s akin to death by a thousand cuts.
“If he doesn’t [get the knockout] and Nate’s able to survive those first few rounds, and we’ve also seen Jake gas — or maybe not gas but slow down, get a little bit tired,” Brown said. “If Nate can handle those first few rounds, push through, make this a longer fight, 10 rounds, even better for Nate. If he can get through those first few rounds and start to wear Jake down a little bit, we all know what Nate can do once he gets you worn down. If you slow down on him, he’s going to f*** you up.
“I’m sure that’s the game plan for both of these guys. Jake’s going to try to go out there and hit him and hurt him early. Nate’s going to try to make this a long marathon, 10-round match.”
As capable as Diaz is of pulling off the upset, Brown acknowledges the UFC vet has a lot working against him in this fight, which is why he’s sticking with his prediction of a Paul win.
“I think Jake can probably keep him off and probably throw a big right hand, tie him up a little bit, wear his arms out, keep kind of repeating that, rinse and repeat over and over,” Brown said. “It’s just hard to give Nate a chance in this fight going up 30 pounds.”
With Paul cemented as a heavy favorite in the betting odds, he’s going to be a popular pick heading into Saturday, but that also heightens expectations for his performance.
After dropping a split decision to Tommy Fury back in February, Paul can ill afford to lose another fight, especially against an undersized opponent like Diaz who has never competed in a professional boxing match until now.
The same can’t be said for Diaz, who is effectively playing with house money. As the underdog with superstar status, he’s essentially bulletproof as far as booking another marquee fight regardless of the outcome in his battle against Paul.
“There’s a lot of pressure on [Paul],” Brown said. “Nate doesn’t really have a whole lot to lose.
“He’s probably not expected to win by a lot of people. He’s going in there for a payday. Probably doesn’t really care a ton. He’s a competitor so he wants to win in that sense. He’s a fighter so he’s going to want to win, but the stakes are much higher for Jake Paul.”