YouTube star Jake Paul, who holds a professional boxing record of 2-0 with two knockouts, is scheduled to throw hands with former UFC welterweight Ben Askren as part of the Triller Fight Club pay-per-view (PPV) event this Sat. night (April 17, 2021) inside Mercedes-Benz Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
Which makes this a strange time to admit to having early signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
“It’s a dangerous sport,” Paul told combat sports reporters during Thursday’s media day (watch it here). “That’s why, when people question my dedication to it—it’s like, I’m showing up every single day. I’m putting my mental health on the line, my brain is on the line. Like you said, I’ve gone and gotten brain scans and have early signs of CTE.”
Admission of brain damage in any capacity is usually grounds to bench a fighter, perhaps even more so now in light of “scary” reports, which is why UFC veterans like Mark Hunt and Wanderlei Silva continue to find themselves at the mercy of local athletic commissions.
Even though some fighter believe CTE is nothing more than a “mental weapon” to strike down the weak.
“I love this sport and wouldn’t trade it for anything else,” Paul continued (transcribed by Zane Simon). “And I’m a fighter and people will see that. Whether it’s after Saturday night or whether it’s a year from now, they will see that I’m a fighter.”
Brain injuries can be difficult to diagnose and symptoms can vary across the board, depending on the injury as well as the athlete. That’s why post-mortem examinations (like this one) have been invaluable in helping the science move forward.
And based on what we’ve seen from fighters like this, time is of the essence.