Another Sunday, another weekend without the UFC, Bellator, PFL, or ONE Championship. Going through withdrawals yet?
Well, the wait will be over soon. In the meantime, here are a few of the stories we didn’t get a chance to cover this week.
Scott Coker Offers Jake Paul a Roster Spot in Bellator
This isn’t exactly the first time Bellator President Scott Coker has tried to lure Jake Paul to Bellator. And it’s a longshot to actually happen. Sure, Paul has committed outright arson when it comes to burning any shot he’d have at fighting in the UFC, but without the allure of PPVs, it’s hard to see Paul opting to fight for Bellator.
Still, Coker told MMA Junkie’s Mike Bohn that both Jake and brother Logan Paul “are real athletes,” and he’d be willing to give them a shot. “They’re putting in the work. You can’t take that away from them, and they’re getting better and better and better. What you saw with Woodley, that’s a lot of hard work to get to that point. I’ve never seen Woodley get knocked out like that, right? And so, is it just boxing? Yes. So, I always said, ‘Look, man, don’t underestimate these guys,’ and this was like a year-and-a-half ago.”
“If you want to come into MMA, we would gladly do it,” Coker stated, before adding the caveat that Jake Paul appears to want to hit at least 10 bouts in boxing before making any transition.
Not stated: if he came to MMA, Jake Paul would have to fight guys his own size.
Mark Hunt Hit with Hefty Legal Bill, Challenges White, Fertitta Bros.
Mark Hunt is not a guy you particularly want angry with you. One of the hardest-hitting of the hard-hitting heavyweights, “The Super Samoan” has now challenged UFC President Dana White, and former UFC owners Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, to a fight, after being ordered to foot the promotion’s legal bills as a result of his lawsuit against the company.
While Hunt’s lawsuit remains ongoing, a large portion of it was dismissed back in March 2021, with the Nevada U.S. District Court ruling Hunt owed his former employers legal costs coming in around the $400,000 U.S. mark.
Hunt had originally sued the promotion while still under contract, after Brock Lesnar tested positive for banned substances following their UFC 200 fight. Originally a win for Lesnar, the result was overturned, but Hunt alleged the UFC had conspired to let a dirty fighter compete, with the ensuing lawsuit accusing the promotion of racketeering, fraud, breach of contract, negligence, and unjust enrichment, among other claims.
Now, Hunt says he’ll withdraw the remainder of his lawsuit if White and the Fertittas can beat him in a fight. If Hunt wins? The UFC has to pay “every fighter [you] have ripped off since UFC started.”
Hunt last competed in MMA in December 2018, losing a unanimous decision against Justin Willis. In December of 2020, Hunt took a boxing match against former Rugby player Paul Gallen, losing a six-round unanimous decision.
Off-topic, but if you haven’t seen it, this is still one of our favorite Mark Hunt stories ever.
Is Jake Paul Training for an MMA Debut?
It’s easy to poke fun at Jake Paul’s fighting career. We’ve done plenty of it ourselves. After all, Paul has made a career out of boxing non-boxers, opponents generally out-sized and outclassed by the Youtube star.
Jake Paul switching to MMA? That would make things a little more interesting, regardless of who he fights. There are too many variables in the cage for any opponent to be considered “safe,” and a Paul MMA fight would at least prove that he’s willing to step outside of his comfort zone.
On Friday, Paul posted some training footage of himself in the gym, labelled “1st day training kicks.” The clip even got the notice of PFL star Brendan Loughnane, who offered “not a bad kick tbf” after seeing the footage.
— Jake Paul (@jakepaul) January 7, 2022
Paul to MMA? He did tag Bellator and the PFL in his post. Could the long-mulled Dillon Danis fight be in the offing? We shall see. Scott Coker is clearly interested (see the segment that kicked off this week’s Quick Hits), and the PFL has talked about getting into the PPV market.
Anthony Smith is Buying Paul’s Fighter Pay Narrative
Speaking of Paul, UFC light heavyweight contender and former title challenger Anthony Smith believes the social media star is being genuine in his attempt to put the spotlight on fighter pay in the UFC. To quote our own Heath Harshman, “huh.”
“I think he’s being honest,” Anthony Smith stated on Sirius XM’s Fight Nation this past Tuesday (h/t MMA Fighting). “I think he actually does care. Here’s the deal, we’ve had these movements where people talk about fighter pay and blah, blah, blah – it’s always people that it benefits, and I’m not meaning just fighters. In the history of the sport we’ve had people come from the outside and they want to seem like they’re some savior and they’re gonna come in and they’re gonna save us and help us, but at the end of the day, every single one of those guys has had their own endgame. Jake Paul has nothing to gain here, so I think do believe it, it does sound genuine, because it’s a pain in the ass. It’s hard to do and he’s still attacking it. He’s continually bringing it up for months and months and he’s not letting it go.”
Perhaps he’s being genuine, perhaps he really does care. But attacking Dana White and the UFC is also low hanging fruit, and an easy way to keep his name in the media. And to keep UFC fans invested in buying his boxing PPVs.
PFL, WFL Execs Go At it on Linked In
Well, to be fair, this was mostly on WFL Founder Darren Owen’s side. After PFL co-owner Donn Davis posted an infographic comparing the state of MMA to other sports leagues — a graphic that only listed the UFC, Bellator, and the PFL under the MMA category, while including every big league team for the major sports — Owens chimed in.
An interesting interaction on LinkedIn between PFL’s Donn Davis and WFL founder Darren Owen. pic.twitter.com/AzJuKVW7mi
— Alan Murphy 🌐 (@AlanMurphyMMA) January 8, 2022
“Are you seriously that detached from the sport? There’s 300+ promotions that exist and are currently operating. One FC, Cage Warriors, KSW, ACA, Eagle FC, Brave, Rizin, Combate Americas, Invicta, Pancrase, Jungle Fights just to name a few.”
Both the PFL and WFL are based on a league format, the difference being the WFL intends to be a true league, which means the league itself will be a non-profit, with individual franchises being set up in major markets. For those that remember the IFL, there are similarities, but independent franchise owners were never a part of the ill-fated promotion.
Worth noting is that Davis’ infographic doesn’t include minor league teams; making a direct comparison to MMA is a tad difficult as a result, since many of the promotions Owen listed (ACA, Jungle Fights, etc) would be considered regional players only.
White, Rogan Place on Variety 500
UFC President Dana White and color commentator Joe Rogan (unquestionably more so for his podcast) have placed on the 2021 Variety 500 — a list of the 500 most powerful people in entertainment and media.
Their accompanying profiles are… interesting, to say the least.
White’s profile highlights his business as usual approach to the coronavirus pandemic, from refusing to mandate vaccinations for fighters, to Fight Island, to holding full house events without mask mandates.
With Rogan, considered by many one of the most influential voices in media, the focus was on the “controversial” nature of The Joe Rogan Experience. “In the wake of signing a $100 million Spotify deal in 2020, Rogan and his podcast “The Joe Rogan Experience” became a favorite target of critics for his attacks on “woke” culture and vaccine passports, and his controversial guests including conspiracy-loving radio host Alex Jones. He inspired internal protests by Spotify employees, who alleged that the podcast was transphobic.”
That probably turns more heads, but Rogan’s podcast covers a far broader spectrum of topics than Variety suggests.
The list also includes Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, LeBron James, WWE Exec Nick Khan, Stephen Colbert, Drake, Tom Hanks, David E. Kelley, Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, and Scarlett Johansson, among others.