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Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz predictions roundtable: Who wins Paul vs. Diaz and how?

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Jake Paul and Nate Diaz
Nate Diaz and Jake Paul face off Saturday in Dallas.
Esther Lin, MVP

Jake Paul, 26, and Nate Diaz, 38, finally collide Saturday night in a 10-round big-money boxing match, which takes place at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas. Ahead of the action, MMA Fighting’s Shaun Al-Shatti, Alexander K. Lee, Jed Meshew, and Damon Martin stepped back up to the roundtable to predict the winner of Paul vs. Diaz.

Lee: When this fight was first announced, I had the same thought as everyone else: Jake Paul is probably going to beat up Nate Diaz and we’re all going to feel a little sad about it. Just looking at the facts, Paul is bigger, younger, more athletic, and he’s, you know, actually been boxing. How well he’s been boxing remains up for debate, but it’s difficult to shake the image of Paul leveling MMA stars Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren, and then outpointing a beloved legend in Anderson Silva. Things didn’t look good for Stockton’s favorite son.

As these things tend to go when you’re immersed in coverage and thinking about a circus fight way more than anyone reasonably should, I’ve talked myself into the underdog. That’s right Diaz Army, throw them middle fingers up, I’m rolling with Mr. 209 himself.

Admittedly, I couldn’t be lower on Paul’s prospects as a boxer after his uninspiring loss to Tommy Fury. Once Paul was in there with an opponent who had a legitimate boxing background, he looked like exactly what he is: A super famous dude whose fame far exceeds his actual fighting ability. And Fury didn’t exactly cover himself in glory on that night either.

So once again, I’m leaning towards the man with more overall fighting experience, in this case the scrappy Diaz, a veteran of 27 UFC fights and who knows how many Saturday night street fights. Yes, this is the same logic I used once upon a time to justify Askren beating Paul, but I feel much more confident here given that Diaz actually has credible boxing skills and two working hips.

Plus, what’s Paul going to do, knock Diaz out? I could see a cut stoppage, but Paul actually landing a one-hitter quitter on the durable Diaz? Unlikely, and once this fight goes past the sixth round, how is Paul going to keep up with Diaz’s relentless pace? He won’t.

Diaz by decision.

Al-Shatti: This is wild because I feel like the Prince of Positivity just made my case for me. My pal above is correct: Jake Paul is much bigger, much younger, and in the year of our Lord 2023, much, much more athletic than Nathan Diaz. He’s also boxed professionally multiple times (seven times, to be exact!) and has spent the majority of his past half-decade strictly immersing himself in the sweet science. Diaz has done none of those things.

Have we learned nothing from the mistakes of our past here? I’ve seen this story play out four times before and all four times MMA had to learn the hard way that there’s a world of difference between being a world-class mixed martial artist and being even a passable pro boxer. Is a 38-year-old Nate Diaz a better boxer than a 47-year-old Anderson Silva, the latter of whom was vastly bigger, faster, and more experienced with the nuances of wearing 10-ounce gloves last October than Diaz is at this stage of the game? Of course not.

Don’t misinterpret what I mean — Diaz would obviously win (easily and emphatically) in any Joe Rogan-esque “Who’s Walking Out Of This Room Alive” scenario with Paul. But that’s not what Saturday is, at all, and we’ve seen enough examples of the Boxing vs. MMA trope to understand things rarely go well for the competitor who’s the fish out of water.

It’s also a bit strange to me to completely discount the idea of Paul knocking Diaz out. Sure, Diaz is tougher than a cheap buffet steak, but he’s been knocked out before (Josh Thomson) and he’s a man approaching his 40s who’s sustained an excessive amount of damage over the course of a 19-year combat sports career. The dam breaks for everyone in the fight game eventually, and taking repeated power shots over 10 rounds from a ludicrously wealthy 20-something-year-old who has infinite resources to pour into his training feels like the kind of recipe that could lend itself to an explosive result. To deny that as a potential outcome is a mix of wishful thinking and overvaluing of the Diaz mythos.

Look, would it be rad if Diaz won? Of course. Selfishly, I’d rather not watch another of our fading legends become the latest scalp on Paul’s mantelpiece. Does Diaz have a better chance than Ben Askren and Tyron Woodley? Sure, I feel confident in saying he does. But the reality is that Paul is almost a 6-to-1 favorite on some sportsbooks for a reason.

Paul wins by decision, but Diaz will get his UFC 263 moment where he tags the YouTuber late and rides off into his next adventure claiming victory as he did against Leon Edwards.

Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz press conference

Martin: It’s astonishing how much we all try to talk ourselves into making a seemingly one-sided fight into something far more competitive, but it’s tough to see how Nate Diaz gets the job done against Jake Paul.

Sure, Diaz’s death-by-a-thousand-cuts style served him well in MMA when he could just jab away at an opponent for 15 or 25 minutes, display incredible endurance — and a world-class grappling game — that allowed him to get more wins than losses, but let’s not forget that Stockton’s finest was also at best an undersized, mid-level welterweight for the latter part of his career in the UFC, with a 5-5 record overall in the division.

Now he’s going up to 185 pounds, he’s competing in a brand new sport, and he’s on the wrong side of 30 when he does it. Meanwhile, Paul, for all his faults, isn’t a terrible boxer, he’s 26 years old, he punches like a truck, and he legitimately walks around at 200 pounds on his off days.

To his credit, Paul has been incredibly smart in picking his opposition, because he’s managing to land high-profile, marquee fights with minimum risk to his record or reputation. Outside of his loss to Tommy Fury — the only opponent with a similar boxing résumé — Paul has taken out several welterweights and a 48-year-old legend in Anderson Silva, who was also the only person besides Fury who effectively matched him in size.

Rather than rush back to a rematch with Fury again, Paul played it smart by dipping back into the MMA pool and offering Diaz a hefty payday as a free agent finally clear of his UFC contract. Paul knows he has every advantage in this fight — he’s taller, he’s bigger, he hits harder, and he has years of boxing experience under his belt at this point compared to Diaz.

There might be a few fun exchanges in this one, and Diaz eating a punch then waving Paul forward will get a rise out of the crowd, but it’s hard to imagine it gets much more competitive than that. Plus, let’s not forget, Diaz has taken a lot of damage during his career and his skin gets sliced open so often it’s like he’s secretly auditioning for a horror movie every time he fights. Unless Paul spent more time ruining Ferraris and hiring jackasses to work for his betting app than he did preparing for Diaz, he should win this fight going away.

Paul by TKO.

Meshew: Look, I’m not an idiot. I know the deal here: we put polish this turd into something at least mildly presentable for the masses to consume. Still, I’m flat out astonished by how many words y’all have put into the “analysis” of this carnival sideshow.

Jake Paul is going to beat Nate Diaz because he is bigger and younger and more athletic and punches harder and Diaz has never boxed in his life and is also old and rickety like the pirate ship from The Goonies (or I guess any pirate ship at this point, unless we’re talking about Somalian ones, but even those boats don’t look particularly seaworthy. Anyway, I digress.)

Jake Paul’s entire career has been picking fights with people smaller than him in a venue that substantially favors him and it’s been going gangbusters. In fact, the one time he didn’t do that — fighting a guy his age and size who actually has some understanding of the sweet science — he lost! Paul isn’t going to make that mistake again. Enter Diaz. Big name, easy W: best of all worlds.

Would it be cool if Nate found a way to have a moment and something for the Diaz army to latch onto as a “He didn’t really get beat!” way to cope? Sure. But that’s the thing about this fight, it’s already baked in. When Nate gets boxed up on Saturday, all of Stockton can stand up and cry as one, “In a real fight, Nate kills him!” Hell, even Nate appears to be taking that approach coming into this fight, because he certainly doesn’t seem interested in anything other than the paycheck.

Come Saturday, Jake Paul will add another notable MMA fighter to his wall of vanquished foes as he continues to mark inexorably towards the ultimate money fight: Conor McGregor. Just accept it and move on, (and keep it locked to MMA Fighting for all your Paul-Diaz coverage needs).

Paul by Decision.

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