Popular pugilists Nate Diaz and Jake Paul will lace up the gloves and throw down TONIGHT (Sat. Aug. 5, 2023) in a 10-round, 185-pound contest from inside American Airlines Center in Dallas, Texas.
This will be Diaz’s first — and potentially only — non-UFC bout since 2006. He didn’t leave the promotion with his tail between his legs, either. Really, the last five years or so in Diaz’s career have been marked more by inactivity than losing fights. He’s consistently in the most high-profile fights possible, and he wins as often as not (cough, Conor McGregor) — it could be worse! Meanwhile, Paul enters following the first loss off his young professional career (watch it). It had to happen at some point, seeing as the YouTuber continually pushed the envelope with each new opponent. Still, the result is huge pressure here, as there’s no guarantee Paul will continue in the ring if upset.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
MMA Record: 20-13
Key Wins: Conor McGregor (UFC 196), Michael Johnson (UFC on FOX 17), Anthony Pettis (UFC 241), Donald Cerrone (UFC 141), Jim Miller (UFC on FOX 3), Tony Ferguson (UFC 279)
Key Losses: Leon Edwards (UFC 263), Conor McGregor (UFC 202), Jorge Masvidal (UFC 244), Raphael dos Anjos (UFC on FOX 13), Ben Henderson (UFC on FOX 5)
Keys to Victory: There are two primary aspects to Diaz’s offensive boxing. On one hand, he’s always had a long one-two combination and good timing with it, able to touch his opponent, pull to avoid, then fire it again. He’s also taken a page from his brother’s box by jamming his foes into the fence and roasting ribs.
Both tactics combine to make Diaz an exhausting man to fight. Given that Paul has seriously fatigued in fairly low-volume fights against Tyron Woodley and Tommy Fury, gassing out Paul seems like a very reasonable objective, especially in 10 rounds.
Early on, I like the latter strategy for Diaz. He can advance with his hands high, blocking through Paul’s wide swings and getting in close. At that distance, he can hang on Paul and hit the body when possible, but really the focus should be on slowing him down.
Diaz can lose a good handful of early rounds inconsequentially. Once he feels the speed and power start to come off Paul’s shots, it’s time to start pitching more and more straight, hard punches down the pipe.
Key Wins: Anderson Silva (Oct. 2022), Tyron Woodley (Dec. 2021, Aug. 2021)
Key Losses: Tommy Fury (Feb. 2023)
Keys To Victory: Paul is an athletic young boxer with good trainers and sparring partners behind him. He’s picked up some good fundamentals as a result, and when combined with some natural power, fundamentals tend to produce results.
There’s always a chance that Paul just sparks Diaz in a couple rounds. He’s considerably larger and younger (see Tale of the Tape here), and those attributes alone may be enough to stop the 38-year-old with many miles on him.
It would be smarter to assume otherwise, however. Both Diaz brothers made entire careers off convincing opponents to try to knock them out. Instead, Paul’s focus should be on footwork. If he’s moving and filling space with jabs, he should able to pick and choose when to exchange without gassing in the process.
Historically, Paul likes to keep light on his feet and work lots of jabs high and low. If he can maintain that strategy without getting overeager, he should be able to avoid the classic Diaz rally late in the fight ... if it goes that far.
This wonky showcase will have a significant impact on the careers of both men.
For Diaz, he clearly wants to return to UFC in chase of McGregor money fights and/or another title shot. I don’t know how likely the latter is anymore, but a McGregor trilogy will always sell. And, perhaps most important, the Irish sports star wants it. That said, losing to influencers is not a good look for a fighter who sells himself on realness, and it wouldn’t help his future marketability even if there will always be money fights available for him.
Maybe a loss does send him to PFL for the MMA rematch? A win keeps Diaz in the driver’s seat of his career.
As for Paul, another defeat could eject him from boxing into MMA (seriously). If so, he’s already accomplished more than anyone could have predicted. Alternatively, a win keeps Paul’s options open. Maybe beating Diaz would help convince McGregor to cross back into the ring? It’s a storyline if nothing else. Alternatively, someone like Mike Perry could be next for Paul either way.
Later this evening, Jake Paul and Nate Diaz will meet in the ring. Which man leaves with his hand raised?
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