Jake Paul: champion of fighter’s rights and the working man’s voice. 2022 is already throwing us for a loop if this is a headline that could be considered accurate, yet here we are. YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul is standing up to UFC president Dana White. The two have engaged in a social media war – launching video and text volleys at one another in what is assuredly a publicity stunt. But there’s more to it. Paul is hoping to force White’s hand and make him treat his fighters better, a cause that Paul has held near and dear to his heart.
What Paul Says
Paul and White are titans in their respective fields. Paul, a YouTube star and superstar boxer – in that he fights celebrity bouts, and does pretty well – has recently set his fighting sights on UFC president Dana White. Although the fight isn’t happening in the octagon, it’s a scrap for the ages as Paul accuses White of mistreating his UFC fighters.
White has returned the insults and threats in kind – even taking a jab at Paul’s manager. But what’s it really about? That depends on who you ask.
Paul accused White of using cocaine, and White shot back that Paul must be on steroids. It’s only gone down from there. After Paul won a knockout fight against UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley, Paul asked White to allow UFC fighters Jorge Masvidal or Nate Diaz to face him in a boxing ring. White refused and challenged Paul to take a drug test.
For a little while there, everything was quiet. Then, on New Year’s Day, Paul came out swinging – online. In an online statement, Paul promised to retire from boxing and fight Jorge Masvidal in the UFC ring, but he had a list of demands:
“1) Increase min fighter pay per fight to $50K (it’s $12K now)
2) Guarantee UFC fighters 50% of UFC annual revenues ($1bn in 2021)
3) Provide longterm healthcare to all fighters (you previously said brain damage is part of the gig…imagine the NFL said that). There are many UFC alums who have publicly said they are suffering from brain damage
You have 5 days to accept and to implement the above by March 31, 2022. Once implemented I will immediately retire from boxing, enter USADA and agree to a 1 fight deal with UFC to fight weak chin Jorge
To all UFC fighters — time to take a stand and create value for yourselves and peers. You deserve higher pay, you deserve long term healthcare and above all you deserve freedom. Support each other. I am not your enemy, I am your advocate…who selfishly wants to KO a few of you to make some big bank.”
Is Paul trying to start a revolution? It sure seems like it. Mentioning the fact that UFC fighters are often paid poorly – and Paul’s bout fighters make more – is definitely spitting in White’s eye, and reminding them of their poor health coverage can’t be seen as anything other than a declaration of war. After all, if UFC fighters take Paul’s momentum and run with it, White will be in deep water.
White didn’t take long to respond. Per Sporting News, in a video White shot back, “‘You never responded to the challenge,’ White stated, via MMA Fighting. ‘You publicly stated that I use cocaine. I do not. So I told you [that] you could randomly cocaine test me for the next 10 years. I believe that you’re a cheater and I believe that you use steroids, so I want to randomly steroid test you for the next two years. And that thing that you came out with today, nobody on Earth thinks that you really wrote that. You’re too stupid. And for those of you that don’t know — if you’ve ever watched one of his fights and you see the staredowns, the guy that’s standing in the middle with the warlock nose and the big wart on his face, apparently that’s his manager.’
‘That guy used to be an accountant for me. And let me say this, he no longer works for me and I think he’s a scumbag. But if you two think you can do it better than we do, [that] we’re doing the whole thing wrong and you’re treating fighters better than we do, knock yourself out. Go start your own business, it’s easy to do. Get the warlock on it. The warlock can get it started for you.'”
White ignored the demands and only focused on the deal that Paul could drug test White for 10 years – if White could drug test Paul for steroids for 2.
The Nitty Gritty
Paul of course couldn’t let that stand and created a video response while on vacation. Independent reports, “Paul has since responded, saying in a video posted on social media: ‘Long story short, you address nothing that I said. I accepted your challenge, I said I would fight MMA, I said that I would retire from boxing and you avoided all of that s***.
‘It shows that you are in a corner. You’re a dog in a corner trying to fight to save his whole company and the embarrassment that I’ve put you through. Everybody sees it, and what you can’t accept or love or appreciate is that I’m trying to change the sport forever.
‘You are one of the most selfish, capitalistic motherf*****s that I’ve ever seen, and everybody else needs you, Dana; I’m the only person that doesn’t need you.
‘I don’t give a f*** about you, but all these people, all your fighters, all of them, they can’t say s*** because you’ll just bench them. You met your maker. I’m not gonna stop. Welcome to the show, ladies and gentlemen.
‘The bottom line, Dana, is that you won’t add healthcare for your fighters because you don’t give a f*** about them and you’re too much of a greedy b**** to pay your minimum fighter more than $12,000 for risking their lives. It’s what a janitor makes. You need to pay them $50,000, Dana. Stop avoiding my points.
‘You’re just a jealous, ugly f***. You don’t know what true happiness is, you’re the definition of a f*****g unhappy billionaire who thought that money was gonna make their lives better. I feel bad for you.’”
So far, White hasn’t responded to his demands and the countdown which expires this week. It will be interesting to see if he takes Paul up on his offer – but the drama that the YouTuber is stirring up isn’t likely to go anywhere any time soon, regardless. It’s true that the majority of non-superstar UFC fighters don’t get compensated or receive benefits adequate enough to care for the toll the sport takes on their body. But a few majorly hyped celebrity fighting matches doesn’t exactly make Paul an expert in the industry.
Watching the young buck spar with the old guard does create one benefit: UFC fighters can take this momentum and push for change, if they want. Maybe Paul’s just tilting at windmills, though. But it should be noted – his name is in the headlines.