Jake Paul’s grand plans are turning out to be a little more difficult that he thought.
Following his win over Anderson Silva in their boxing match last October, Paul and “The Spider” agreed to work together to create a fighter’s association for MMA. For Paul, the idea was to unionize fighters to put them in a better position to bargain for things like health insurance and better pay, and as a widely beloved legend of the sport, Silva would help bring other fighters into the fold. Earlier this month, Silva said that the two of them had already begun to lay the groundwork for their ultimate vision, speaking with MMA Mania, Paul revealed that there is still a lot to do.
“We’ve been working nonstop on it behind the scenes,” Paul said. “It’s just … damn near impossible to figure this one out [laughs]. It’s very difficult. Very, very difficult. We’re not shying away because of that, but it takes a lot of people, a lot of brains, a lot of money that we are funding, and a lot of time, a lot of thought. So, really, we’ve been chugging along in this whole entire time behind the scenes and making slow progress more and more every single day.”
Paul and Silva are not the first people to attempt to create a fighter’s association. Back in 2016, Georges St. Pierre, Donald Cerrone, Cain Velasquez, T.J. Dillashaw, and Tim Kennedy all signed on to create the Mixed Martial Arts Athletes Association, with many of the same goals, however the organization quickly fizzled out. A few years after that, Leslie Smith tried to start a UFC athlete’s union that again struggled to gain traction. And of course, collective bargaining in MMA got its first boost with the Mixed Martial Arts Fighters Association, which still seeks to add the sport to the Muhammad Ali Boxing Reform act and has challenged the UFC’s business practices in an ongoing anti-trust lawsuit.
While not referencing previous failures in the same vein, Paul seems to understand that this endeavor is a marathon, not a sprint.
“Definitely this is a big three, four-year thing,” Paul said. “It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve been working and fingers crossed. I think it’s gonna be great for the combat sports world in general and sort of change the history of fighters being treated terribly and not having health insurance, being underpaid, the list goes on and on and on. Hopefully, that’s something we can fix in the next couple of years.”
In the meantime, Paul’s boxing career continues on. The former Disney star is scheduled to face Nate Diaz in a 10-round match on Aug. 5 at the American Airlines Center in Dallas. Diaz will be the fourth former MMA fighter Paul will face and as the fight draws nearer, he’s excited to see how Diaz fares crossing over.
“I guess he’s probably just as tough as Tyron [Woodley], and has that durability and that stamina, and is maybe a little bit more unorthodox than Anderson, but he’s about that same level of striking,” Paul said. “I would say he’s right up there with Anderson and Tyron and could probably potentially be a better boxer than both of them just because of his experience working with Andre Ward… It’ll be interesting to see how good he is.
Maybe if he beats Diaz, he can get Stockton’s favorite son to join in on the union.