Creating a fighters’ union may have been harder than Jake Paul realized.
Paul, 26, has enjoyed gambling with additional stakes to his professional boxing matches throughout his seven-fight career (6-1). Ahead of his biggest fight to date against former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Middleweight champion and mixed martial arts (MMA) icon, Anderson Silva, “The Problem Child” continued that trend.
Paul’s unanimous decision win over Silva (watch highlights) meant Silva also lost their pre-fight bet. Therefore, “The Spider” had to help him create a fighters union. Paul has been extremely vocal about fighter pay and treatment — specifically in UFC — since joining the combat sports world. Officially beginning this venture with Silva, Paul is finding out firsthand the difficulties of providing everyone with what he feels they deserve.
“We’ve been working nonstop on it behind the scenes,” Paul told MMA Mania. “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, 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.
“This is a big three, four-year thing,” he continued. “It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ve been working and fingers crossed, man. 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.”
A fighters union is just another job added to Paul’s overloaded plate of duties and investments. Boxing has become Paul’s No. 1 priority, noting that it has to be since his life is on the line every time out. Before fighting, he started as an entertainer on platforms like Vine and YouTube, which have spread to wherever else can be thought of. Whether podcasting or promoting fights rather than competing in them, Paul has “to be a maniac” to put his hand in all these cookie jars and owes a lot to his team to help with the juggling act.
Then there are sponsors and partnerships with products like Celsius, a fitness and energy drink that’s starting to find a home in combat sports as seen at 2023 Professional Fighter League (PFL) events. Founded in 2004, Celsius is now happily working with Paul and adding to his many different avenues of focus.
“It was an organic relationship,” Paul said. “I always drank Celsius since they were first around and in stores and I happened to meet the CEO at Papi Steak and we were having dinner at two different tables and we kind of hit it off and we started hanging out and I thought he was really cool. I think he thought I was cool and we talked about a potential sponsorship and working together and we had a similar vision so it’s been really cool because they’ve let me be creative and bring my expertise and my social and the things I know about promoting and marketing to the table. So far, it’s been amazing to work with Celsius.
“It’s sort of like a childhood dream come true,” he continued. “You see all these big brands and it’s crazy that you use something every day then all the sudden you’re able to work with them. It doesn’t make any sense (laughs). It’s cool and it makes it more organic as well. I think people really see that and feel that and it makes the story better. I’m not just partnering with some random product because they gave me money. It’s like, no, I’ve actually been a fan of this and I want more people to be fans of Celsius.”
Despite all that’s going on outside the ring, Paul is training to get back in for a 185-pound clash with Nate Diaz on Aug. 5, 2023, in Dallas, Texas. The match will be Paul’s first time attempting to rebound off a loss, coming up short to Tommy Fury via split decision in Feb. 2023. Just this past week, the Diaz match was officially extended from eight rounds to 10, requiring an energy uptick for “The Problem Child.”
“Basically all I did was start drinking more Celsius,” Paul joked. “No, we have been training harder. The strength and conditioning has been stepped up. More running, more rounds, more punching, more boxing. I already feel in such better shape than I ever have in this sport. So, to me, the 10 rounds is exciting.
“Oddly enough, I start to get warmed up a little bit more as the rounds go on,” he added. “You even see that in the Tommy fight where he kind of started [strong] and took some of the early rounds then I started to figure him out and was able to drop him in the eighth. Same thing with Anderson Silva, drop him in the eighth. So, I’m actually almost better as the rounds go on. I think this is actually an advantage for me and I’m excited.”