A list of the biggest winners of UFC 261 in Florida on Sunday has to include YouTube sensation turned boxing star Jake Paul.
On a night when Kamaru Usman, Rose Namajunas and Valentina Shevchenko walked away with UFC gold — and Chris Weidman shockingly snapped his leg during one of the craziest main cards in history — the 24-year-old blonde-haired brat earned as much buzz as anyone.
If you’re still not familiar with Jake Paul he’s one of two brothers, along with older sibling Logan, who rose to fame by posting prank videos on YouTube.
They’ve leveraged their enormous social media popularity into burgeoning boxing careers — especially Jake who is 3-0.
He defeated another YouTuber in his debut before knocking out former NBA player Nate Robinson on the undercard of Mike Tyson’s return last year and then exploding as a bona fide pay-per-view star while knocking out ex-UFC fighter Ben Askren last weekend.
None of those opponents are legitimate boxers but it hasn’t mattered as hundreds of thousands of fight freaks fork out the cash to catch the circus that surrounds the 178cm loudmouth.
He’s the type of fighter Dana White hates — all hype and unproven talent — but even the UFC president was forced to admit after the Askren fight there’s undoubtedly a market for what Paul is selling.
Jake Paul celebrates his knockout win against Ben Askren. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images for Triller)Source:Getty Images
The Ohio product is a promotional genius and made sure he capitalised on his recent momentum by getting cageside seats for the first UFC event with crowds since COVID in Jacksonville on Sunday.
After that, all he had to do was sit back and wait for all the biggest names in the business to turn the spotlight his way.
Paul, who attended the event with NFL wide receiver Antonio Brown, was receiving “f** Jake Paul” chants from the crowd, which UFC commentator Joe Rogan noted during ESPN’s broadcast.
UFC legend Daniel Cormier, who now enjoys a major platform as an ESPN analyst for the sport and was also part of the broadcast, was then drawn into Paul’s web.
He pointed at Paul and said “don’t play with me, because I’ll smack him in the face”. “He’s right there. I’ll slap him. I don’t play those games, Joe,” Cormier said.
Cormier, 42, then went over to Paul and had a heated exchange with the YouTube star that was broken up by security.
Cormier has been vocal about Paul’s place in the fight world and dismissed the possibility of facing him, believing it would be a gross mismatch.
But he played into Paul’s hands by angrily shouting at him and sticking a finger in his face. It was the content Paul was looking for and quickly went viral.
Daniel Cormier interacts with Jake Paul during the UFC 261 event. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)Source:Getty Images
The fun wasn’t over there though as Paul was brought up several times during Dana White’s post-event press conference.
Despite his reluctance to give Paul any more oxygen, White ended up giving him exactly what he wanted.
When it was put to him it made business sense to consider having one of his fighters box Paul, White delivered some pointed comments.
“You’re getting me talking about this f***ing guy again,” White said. “He’s getting handpicked opponents and god knows what else is going on with that whole f***ing thing.
“There is a market for that (but) that is not what I do. People want to see that … and it’s great and this kid is going to make a couple bucks before this ride is over.
“What I do is what happened tonight.
“The numbers you’re hearing they did are full of s***. They didn’t full those numbers. Not even f***ing close.”
UFC president Dana White responds to a question about Jake Paul.Source:YouTube
There was one final treat left for Paul before his night was done.
After having the likes of Rogan, Cormier and White help raise his profile, Paul also managed to get the attention of the biggest name in the game.
Conor McGregor was again trying to rubbish Paul when he tweeted “UFC high level fighting > Blogger jackass boxing” but again, it didn’t matter and showed Jake Paul has the UFC by the balls.
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