Holly Holm is considering a return the ring, Kayla Harrison is blaming the media if a certain UFC champ gets hurt in a hypothetical fight that’s unlikely to ever happen, and Eddie Hearn made Jake Paul look downright sad. It’s your Sunday MMA Quick Hits. Let’s get it on!
Eddie Hearn Gives the Most Grounded Assessment of Jake Paul Yet
The boxing world had a historic night last weekend, as Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano headlined a massive card at Madison Square Garden. By all accounts, it was the first seven-figure payday for both fighters, as women’s boxing has never been a draw the way women’s MMA has been.
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing, along with Jake Paul, who represents Serrano, came together to get the fight done, and had a head-to-head with Ariel Helwani ahead of the bout. While the meeting was ostensibly about promoting Taylor-Serrano, it immediately became about Paul, and Hearn’s assessment of him.
“You’re distinctly average, but that is a compliment,” Hearn said. Paul immediately protested, after looking hurt anyway.
The thing is, Hearn is 110% correct on this one. Jake Paul is average, distinctly average. Which is exactly what it takes to beat below average boxers. And yes, Ben Askren, with the worst hands in MMA, and Tyron Woodley, who hasn’t been able to pull the trigger in years, are below average boxers. Above average MMA fighters, thanks to wrestling and other attributes, but below average in the ring.
“There’s 50% of my roster who probably won’t become world champion. It’s not an insult, it’s a very difficult thing to do,” Hearn later added. “I just, my personal opinion is, is that I don’t think you’re good enough to do it. If you do, wow. What an achievement. And I love your dreams. Dreams are beautiful. But you have to have the ability in sport to go to that top level. Have you got it? We’ll see. But there’s a long way to go.”
Is there ever. Jake Paul has yet to actually box a boxer, or anyone his own size. There’s a reason he clammed up about fighting Anderson Silva — because Silva would probably take the fight, and while a win over Paul isn’t a given at Silva’s age, it might actually be a fair fight. Same with Vitor Belfort, whose name Paul has apparently forgotten as well.
Is This the Worst Poster of the Year for a UFC Event?
The UFC 275 poster is… not great. Certainly not worthy of an event featuring two title fights, and a rematch of the greatest women’s fight of all time.
By all means, put all these fighters on the poster. Just do it in a way that’s a little more aesthetically pleasing.
Your 𝑶𝑭𝑭𝑰𝑪𝑰𝑨𝑳 #UFC275 poster has arrived 🖼
— UFC (@ufc) May 1, 2022
Holly Holm Interested in Boxing Return for Match with Katie Taylor
Speaking of Tayor-Serrano, Holly Holm is interested in boxing the winner.
Holm, a former UFC bantamweight champion, walked away from boxing in 2013 to transition full time to MMA, finishing with a record of 33-2-3. She’s since had a lucrative career in the octagon, becoming the woman to shock the world and knock out Ronda Rousey in 2015 to capture UFC women’s bantamweight the title.
After seeing Taylor pick up another big win last Saturday, Holm is now interested in returning to the ring, after previously believing she’d never box again. In fact, prior to her MMA career, her and Taylor had mulled over a potential match-up.
“We had talked, Taylor and myself, before I wound up going to MMA. We had talked about a possible fight there,” Holm told The MMA Hour last Monday. “I always want to do something that hasn’t been done. I always get super intrigued by things, and I fought at three weight divisions, 40, 47, and 54, and I never got to fight at 35. But I’ve done most of my MMA career at 35, and that’s what their fight was at. So it makes me like, ‘I want to go back in and show what I can do at a whole different weight class.’ I never even fought at that weight class when I was in boxing and I think I’m bigger and stronger than a lot of the 135ers, and I still have conditioning and I still have a lot of that ring experience behind me.”
“It does intrigue me. A lot,” Holm added. “To the point where, before, I was like, ‘I’ll never box again,’ and I’m not saying that. There’s been a lot of people that have been able to transition back and forth, but nobody’s really been able to do it successfully, and that drives me. I want to show people I was able to come to MMA from boxing but I can also go back. It does get me excited.”
Holm has a main event fight with Ketlen Vieira coming up later this month. And ideally, she wants to become an MMA champion again — and compete for a boxing title while holding that belt.
“What gets me excited is if I had one [belt per sport] on each shoulder,” said Holm. “Do it all.”
And the Bad Take of the Week Goes to… Kayla Harrison
Kayla Harrison is the biggest star the PFL has ever seen, and she’d be a bonafide star in any promotion. You can’t teach “It Factor” and she has that in spades. But a bad take is a bad take, and Kayla let loose with a doozy while speaking to MMA Fighting this past week.
According to Harrison, if her and UFC bantamweight champ Julianna Pena ever fight, and Pena gets hurt, it’s… the media’s fault?
After Pena turned up on The MMA Hour and said Harrison was beating tomato cans in the PFL, Harrison responded by telling MMA Fighting that “Listen, you and the media need to be careful. You’re going to get somebody hurt and it’s going to be on your hands, not mine. Because you’re going to get a girl hurt. You’re going to get her really, seriously hurt and it’s not going to be on my conscience because you guys did this.”
That’s right, ladies and gents. When two adults who are professional fighters by trade choose to compete and one gets hurt, it’s going to be the media’s fault. The amount of mental gymnastics Kayla had to do to get to that conclusion is worthy of a third gold medal, frankly.
“You guys gave her this platform and you allowed her to think that she could stand in a cage with me and beat me and you gave her this delusion,” Harrison continued. “I mean it. You guys are to blame. If I ever get the pleasure of fighting her, whatever happens, I want all of you guys to go and look in the mirror and know that you did that. Cause you are stirring it and I am very frustrated that I can’t just beat her ass.”
Someone might want to remind Harrison that fighters are by nature confident, and few are ever going to go into a fight thinking they’ll lose. That’s how this sport works. Pretty much everyone thinks they’re the best, or capable of being the best. Not to mention, in the era of social media, the press doesn’t really need to give anyone a platform — Pena believes what she believes and can just say it herself on social media.
Harrison has been borrowing from Dan Lambert’s book of pro wrestling heel tactics of late, cutting promos whenever she gets the chance. But kayfabe or not, this take was bad.
Masvidal vs. Covington, the Latest
It’s much easier to just bullet-point this soap opera each week. Honestly, the out-of-the-cage shenanigans between these two feel more like a high school falling out than anything else. It’s juvenile, in other words.
So here’s the latest on the assault case, per a pair of legal motions filed by Masvidal’s legal team and obtained by MMA Junkie this past week.
- Masvidal’s aggravated battery while wearing a hood or a mask charge has been listed as NO ACTION. The state attorney will not be seeking an indictment on the charge.
- Lawyers for Masvidal have requested Covington undergo an independent medical examination. His own legal team have said he’s suffering from a brain injury as a result of the alleged assault.
- Masvidal’s lawyer, Brian Cohen, argues that Covington “received several serious blows to the head” in his fight with Masvidal at UFC 272. The argument here appears to be that, any brain trauma Covington is experiencing may stem from that encounter. It’s a bit of a double-edged sword, because he’s also underscoring the fact that his client knew full well that Covington had the potential to be compromised when the attack is alleged to have occurred.
- Masvidal’s legal team is also questioning the authenticity of Covington’s watch, supposedly damaged in the attack. They claim it’s a FOLEX — a “Frankenstein” Rolex made up of authentic and counterfeit parts. It’s unclear what they’re basing this on, other than Covington’s habit of paying off “models” to fake it as his girlfriends during press appearances. At least the watch can’t look embarrassed, unlike the arm candy, which just seem to hate being there at times.
- Despite claims of a sneak attack, Masvidal’s lawyers say video footage shows Masvidal attacked Covington head on.
Dana White Blasts Boxing Salaries
Dana White, who personally amassed upwards $350 million dollars from the sale of the UFC to Endeavor, and continues to run the show to this day, says boxing salaries are out of control.
“There’s always gonna be head butting,” White said during a recent appearance on The Pivot Podcast — when asked about pay in the UFC itself. “Do you make enough money? Do you? I want to meet that guy that goes, ‘Oh, I’m good. I make plenty of money. I don’t need another dime.’ You’re never going to meet that guy. It’s never going to happen. Everybody wants more money. And one of the big problems with boxing too, is that all those f*cking guys are overpaid, and every time they put on a fight, it’s a going-out-of-business sale. We’re just trying to get as much f*cking money as we can from you guys, and then we’re out of here. We’ll see you in three years.”
According to White, “You can’t build a league like that. You can’t build a sport. You can’t have 750 fighters under contract, making money, feeding their families every year, with that kind of mentality. It doesn’t work. You have to run a business.”
There’s probably a happy medium between $35 million dollar purses for top boxers, and fighters on recent UFC cards making $10,000 to show, and another $10,000 should they win. Being blunt: anything under 20K/20K in 2022, with inflation skyrocketing thanks to COVID and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, is pathetic.
White Accidentally Leaks Pretty Much Every Fight For the Next Few Months
Well, us newshound types had a field day with this one. During White’s appearance on The Pivot Podcast, he accidentally gave away the promotion’s plans for the next few months. Letting cameras into the UFC’s “war room” resulted in multiple screenshots of matchmaking plans making the rounds on social media.
Among the fights that have since been confirmed: Robbie Lawler vs. Bryan Barberena at UFC 276, Sean O’Malley vs. Pedro Munhoz at UFC 276, Toney Gravely vs. Johnny Munoz at UFC on June 4, and frankly more.
Some of the most interesting match-ups on the board: we’re back to Khamzat Chimaev vs. Nate Diaz, apparently. Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic was pencilled in for UFC 277 at the end of July, though we’ve since heard September, something Jon Jones himself confirmed.
UFC Looking at Possible Date in China This Fall
Among the UFC’s plans for the road in the second half of 2022, China is a possibility.
Our own Alex Behunin let that news slip on Monday’s instalment of Cageside Live. That’s not in any way a shameless plug for our newly launched podcast. Not in (click) the (click) slightest (you know you want to click down there). Monday’s, 10PM ET.
Back to China. This is not a done deal by any stretch of the imagination. A lot will depend on how the situation surrounding COVID plays out over the next several months.