Is Jake Paul a good wrestler?

Jake Paul PFL Salary and Potential MMA Opponents

According to Forbes and other major news outlets, Jake Paul has recently signed a major contract to fight for the Professional Fighters League (PFL) – currently the third largest MMA promotion in the US behind UFC and Bellator. PFL is known for their $1 million dollar tournaments and has relied on the starpower of fighters like Clarissa Shields and Kayla Harrison. Now it appears as though PFL is venturing into the world of “hype” fights with the goal of drawing in a new audience. Last May, they announced a new PPV series that would split revenue 50/50 with the fighters. This is a major differentiator with the UFC who pays their fighters less than 20% of gross revenue.

As part of his deal, Paul has been given the title of “Head of Fighter Advocacy” where he will work to drive increased salaries and benefits for MMA fighters. Paul and his business partner Nakisa Bidarian will also receive an equity stake in the PFL organization although that percentage has not been publicly disclosed. Given the drawing power that Paul holds, this is likely a lucrative venture on his part and an equally smart deal by the PFL leadership team.

So how much will Jake Paul make in his PFL Fights? Paul’s salary will rely on how well he can promote the fights and what opponents he can get. He will need fighters with big names and will most likely be picking fighters that he believes he can beat. With his equity stake, his team has a strong voice in opponent selection. His most recent fight with Anderson Silva pulled in only 200k-300k in PPV buys. His first fight with Tyron Woodley fared better pulling in between 400k-500k. Paul’s venture into MMA is likely to draw a great deal of interest. Assuming he could pull 400k buys at the PFL selling price of 49.99, he would pull in a gross revenue of $20 million. At a 50% split, he would share $10 million with his opponent. Given that he has always been generous with his opponent split, let’s assume he will take half the purse – so a $5 million per fight salary for Jake Paul could be a realistic estimate.

We recently discussed his wrestling background to analyze how he performed in high school and whether his grappling would transition to MMA. Paul’s best fight would most likely be against an aging striker or a BJJ fighter where he could get into a brawl. After signing his PFL contract, he called out UFC legend Nate Diaz. Diaz is a technical boxer but may not have the wrestling or athleticism to take Paul down. Paul would also be a significantly bigger fighter with Diaz a natural lightweight or welterweight and Paul closer to middleweight. If it went to the mat, the BJJ black belt Diaz could also have some trouble keeping Paul down. Diaz’s best path to victory would most likely be in the dirty boxing game, clinching up against the fence and wearing down the larger Paul with elbows and knees – then potentially looking for a takedown in later rounds. Diaz would likely be the betting favorite in an MMA fight against Paul and an underdog in the proposed boxing match. A better opponent for Paul may be Nate’s brother Nick who previously retired but recently came back in a losing effort against Robbie Lawler at UFC 266. At this stage in his career, Nate is slower and less athletic than his younger brother and would most likely engage in a standup brawl with Paul – where the social media star Paul likely holds the power advantage.

So other than the Diaz brothers, who else could be a potential opponent for Jake Paul’s MMA debut? We’ll throw out some potential names of fighters that may be a good matchup with Paul. Some criteria I’m using are: 1) similar weight/size 2) casual fan name recognition 3) skill matchup 4) not signed to another organization

Anthony Pettis: Pettis has already called out Paul after the PFL news was announced. Pettis would be the smaller fighter but with considerably better wrestling, BJJ and kickboxing. Paul would have the strength and size advantage if this fight took place at middleweight.

Thiago Santos: Santos would likely end Paul’s MMA career but he is already signed under the PFL banner and is around the same weight. His name isn’t a heavy draw though for casual fans and he is a terrible matchup for Paul with his power and grappling.

Rory Macdonald: RoMac recently retired from the PFL but could likely be persuaded to return for a big money fight. Although he is a former Bellator title holder and UFC title challenger, his name doesn’t carry too much drawing power. He would be a tough matchup for Paul with his wrestling and BJJ.

Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone: Cerrone could be an interesting matchup. He’s recently been on the horse meat diet in his retirement and showed interest in facing Paul in a boxing match. His name could be a significant draw and a win for Paul would give him some credibility in the MMA world.

Paulo Costa: Costa is still under contract with the UFC but likely wants out after his recent pay disputes. A big money fight with Paul would be enticing for him and he can likely sell the fight with his big personality. He is a strong grappler and striker that recently challenged for the UFC title. Paul would be a huge underdog in every facet of this fight but it could prove to the world that he is up for a challenge. Paul would likely be close to a 10:1 underdog against Costa. Costa sparred with Jake’s brother Logan in a recent video.

Ben Askren or Tyron Woodley: The storyline here could be that Jake isn’t afraid of jumping into the cage with the retired MMA fighters he beat in the squared circle. Both these fighters would be significant favorites in an MMA fight due to their wrestling

Tito Ortiz: Ortiz is probably still a big draw at age 47 and won his last three fights (though they were against weak or aging competition). He last fought in 2019. Given his age, he is likely a “pick-em” against Paul.

Rashad Evans: The former UFC champ recently came out of retirement to fight in an Eagle FC event in January 2022. His lack of name recognition and grinding style may not be ideal for Paul’s debut.

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