Ben Askren is about to step out of his comfort zone this weekend.
Askren is booked into a celebrity boxing match with Youtube star Jake Paul, which will top a Triller Fight Club event this weekend. Paul is a famous-for-being-famous type, or maybe just famous for being an early adopter of Vine, a now defunct video sharing service on which he posted comedic sketches and stunts, hitting somewhere slightly below the creativity of Jackass.
With a number of controversies under his belt, Paul is a polarizing personality, but Askren, a former Bellator and ONE Championship champ and UFC fighter, hasn’t been too put off by his personality.
“I would say I’m more indifferent to Jake. I think there’s a part of me that still thinks what he’s doing is an act, or a show he puts on,” Askren said, asked about his opponent in a virtual media session this week. “If who he acts like is his real person, then yeah, he’s probably kind of a sh*t person. But I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. Maybe it’s just an act.”
“Even if he was a sh*t person, I guess I would still be pretty indifferent to that,” Askren added. “There is a lot of sh*t people in the world.”
A lot of the promotion for the fight has come down to trash talk — and as Askren sees it, Paul, despite his social media celebrity, isn’t holding up his end of the deal. “I actually think we should probably have our contracts reversed. I’m sure Jake’s getting some kind of PPV bonus, and I’m carrying the f*cking promotion of this fight,” exclaimed Askren. “Jake ain’t promoting sh*t.” Instead, Askren went on to state that “the promotion of this fight is squarely on my shoulders.”
Of course, Paul may just be distracted, after being hit with a sexual assault allegation this week.
A standout wrestler who used that base to great success in MMA, Askren has no real intention of continuing on in boxing past Saturday’s match with Jake Paul, but he could be lured back. “It’s not a who question, it’s a how much question. Is Triller going to recognize that I’m going to sell them a million PPVs, and cut me a Conor McGregor-type check for the next one? Because if they do, I’d consider doing it again,” stated Askren. “And if they don’t, I love coaching wrestling and podcasting, that’s kind of my passion in life, I’ll probably just go do that.”
Asked whether a Conor McGregor style check might include the Irish star himself, Askren noted that “Conor’s a significantly better boxer than myself and obviously Jake Paul as well. I would love to fight McGregor in mixed martial arts, but again, I’m going to be retired, and I don’t really see this happening.”
One good thing has come out of the Askren vs. Paul boxing rivalry — suddenly, Askren has Dana White’s support. The UFC President even bet a million dollars on the wrestling star. “Jake Paul is tremendous in the fact that he even made Dana White like me. That took years to make it happen, and he made it happen. So good job Jake Paul,” Askren joked.
As to all the trash talk ahead of the fight, something many fighters struggle with, Askren pointed out that it can have an upside.
“When the other guy’s really angry or emotional, it’s so beneficial. It really helps a lot.” Askren cited Conor McGregor vs. Jose Aldo as an example. “Conor was so far under his skin, that was the reason the fight was so easy for him, is he made Jose mad. So not only would it be beneficial from a promotion standpoint, but it’s actually beneficial from a competition standpoint.”
Askren vs. Paul takes place Saturday, April 17, 2021 airing live on PPV and Fite.tv