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Gilbert Melendez promises Nate Diaz ‘destroys’ Jake Paul in MMA: “It’s a different animal’

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Jake Paul might want to think twice before following through with his challenge to face Nate Diaz in a rematch in his MMA debut.

In the days leading up to their showdown this past weekend, Paul was constantly jabbing at Diaz with a $10 million offer to run it back in an MMA fight now that he’s part of the PFL roster. Paul ultimately scored a unanimous decision win over Diaz in a hard-fought, 10-round boxing match but he may find that he would have a much shorter night at the office if he actually follows through on his wish for another fight — this time under MMA rules.

“Nate destroys this guy in MMA,” Diaz’s longtime teammate Gilbert Melendez said about the potential matchup on the new episode of The Fighter vs. The Writer. “I’d love to see it. I’d love to see it in boxing again, too. Run it back in boxing and then in MMA.”

Melendez, who was sitting ringside for the bout this past Saturday night, praised Diaz for giving Paul a difficult fight while he was also competing in professional boxing for the first time ever.

While Paul definitely had the experience edge with seven pro boxing matches on his resume, Melendez believes the size advantage was really the biggest factor that Diaz just couldn’t overcome. The fight took place at 185 pounds with Diaz spending most of his career competing at 155 pounds while Paul actually had to cut weight before hitting the scale.

“To me, [Nate] was clearly a better fighter, boxer, the power went to the young man and the durability went to Jake Paul for being young but towards the end I felt the momentum [shift] again,” Melendez explained. “The no quit in Nate coming around. That 9th and 10th rounds where Jake Paul’s getting tired, he’s hugging, he’s losing steam, he can’t put him away. Obviously, I think the size made a difference. A smaller man would have withered sooner.

“I thought Nate did a great job. Just two significant moments happened for Jake Paul that made Nate have to come back a little bit and I believe he was on his way to coming back both those times in that fifth round before he got clipped and then in that 10th round when Jake Paul was holding on and just kind of letting time expire.”

If a rematch happened in MMA — even at 185 pounds — Diaz would have a massive advantage over Paul in any number of areas including a world class grappling game, which he flashed momentarily while grabbing onto a guillotine choke just before the final round in their boxing match expired.

Paul finding success in MMA certainly isn’t out of the question but Melendez believes he would be setting himself up for failure to jump right into the deep end of the pool with a fight against somebody like Diaz.

“You may land a good jab or a good shot but we can clinch” Melendez said. “We can clinch and there’s no referee there to break you up. What’s going to happen then when we get in that grappling zone? It’s just a different sport. You could train, you could become a blue belt [in Brazilian jiu-jitsu] but it takes so much time to become a black belt.

“The grappling, the wrestling is very complex to learn compared to the boxing. I’m not saying it’s easy to succeed but when I have people sign up at my gym and they’re like ‘what should I do first?’ You’ll probably succeed at boxing first. Meaning it’s just your hands, one-two, one-two, some punches. There’s a lot to it [with MMA] — adding kicks, jiu-jitsu, wrestling. It takes so much time to learn that and then to put it together in MMA.”

Even without focusing on the grappling aspect, Melendez is quick to point out the vast differences in striking in MMA versus traditional boxing, which is another area where Diaz could easily find success over Paul.

“Not only in the grappling department but striking with MMA gloves is a different animal,” Melendez said. “It’s a different animal. The punches are different. The way they get in. The angles you can use. The dirty boxing you can use. It’s just a different animal.

“It’s just a lifetime of experience. Nate’s one of those guys, he’s a mixed martial artist. He knows it all and it’s real type of fighting. Just snagging that choke and seeing how he responded, he hit a single leg. It’s a different animal. That’s what mixed martial arts is. This is as pure as fighting comes that can be sanctioned.”

Melendez commended Paul for his willingness to crossover to MMA, which is something so few boxers have attempted over the years, but as Daniel Cormier says so often — there’s levels to this game.

Paul wouldn’t be facing a novice with similar experience.

He would be clashing with Diaz, who has over 30 fights on his resume with wins over two former UFC champions and a litany of memorable performances against the best of the best in MMA during his 19 year career.

“It’s a different sport,” Melendez said. “I can’t wait to see it. I really do hope they have a rematch, whether it’s boxing or MMA.”

Listen to new episodes of The Fighter vs. The Writer every Tuesday with audio only versions of the podcast available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio and Stitcher

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