Former UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley doesn’t believe that YouTuber-turned-boxer Jake Paul is an appropriate figure to head the push for improved fighter pay.
While many storylines have come and gone in recent times, one remains ever-present in discussions and headlines: fighter pay. In a turn of events that not many would have called five years ago, the spearhead for the increased coverage of the debate has been Paul, an online celebrity who has transformed a venture into YouTube boxing into the pursuit of becoming a respect professional pugilist.
But while much of his attention has been on his own exploits inside the ring, “The Problem Child” has also had his sights set on the exploits (or perceived ‘exploiting’) of the MMA leader, with the 25-year-old calling the promotion and its president Dana White out for its pay structure whenever possible.
Paul’s pursuit of better remuneration for mixed martial artists, which has included calls for fighters to unionize, has certainly split opinion.
While the likes of UFC Heavyweight Champion Francis Ngannou, who has been involved in a contractual dispute with the UFC for many months, and middleweight king Israel Adesanya have given their seal of approval, individuals such as featherweight titleholder Alexander Volkanovski and rising lightweight Paddy Pimblett have branded it disingenuous.
Tyron Woodley, who has shared the squared circle unsuccessfully on two occasions with Paul, falls on the latter side of that argument. During a recent appearance on The Residency Podcast, “The Chosen One” suggested that Paul has no place being the ambassador for fighter pay given his personal circumstances.
“I believe that Jake Paul is not the f*cking ambassador for (fighter pay). If you’ve never been underpaid, you should never be the spokesperson for underpaid athletes,” said Woodley. “If you’ve never had adversity, if you’ve never been signed to a promoter that controls your fights, and when you fought and how often you fought, and been threatened if you don’t fight — I got threatened all my last title fights, ‘If you don’t fight, we’re stripping you of the belt. If you don’t fight, we’re kicking you out,’ every time, Darren Till fight, Usman fight, ‘Wonderboy’ fight. But it’s the business.”
Woodley also suggested that the credit for Paul’s outspoken attitude towards the perceived issue should go to the 25-year-old’s manager, Nakisa Bidarian, who formerly held an executive position within the UFC.
Woodley said that while Paul is looking to be the hero, Bidarian is the one who is hoping to bring light to the problems he identified during his time in the promotion.
“This is the thing… it’s more of a kudos to Nakisa for being willing to expose what he feels like should change,” suggested Woodley. “He’s (Paul) not the ambassador for fighter pay, I should be the f*cking ambassador for fighter pay… What he’s doing is trying to be a hero.”
Paul has previously denied being the ambassador for fighter pay. Instead, he believes that he’s simply doing what nobody else is.
Woodley Reveals Why He Won’t Take Over From Paul
Those reading Woodley’s comments might pose the question: why doesn’t Tyron Woodley take over the mantle for improving contractual conditions for UFC fighters?
While he believes that he could do it a lot better than former opponent Paul is, the 40-year-old doesn’t see the point when there’s little to no unity between fighters, which he added is in large part down to the promotional tactics of the UFC.
“There’s no unity. How you gonna unionize with no unity? If I’m taught to say, ‘F*ck you, I’m gonna beat you, let’s fight,’ they build-up the press conferences off us not liking each other, right? To me, or to a Diaz brother, I’m on the same sh*t, when we leave, I still don’t f*cking like you,” said Woodley. “So why the f*ck would I kumbaya with you and ‘let’s get our money?’ When I was not making money, you were not trying to do this sh*t. Now that I’m making millions, now everybody wants to take — Nah, I’m fighting, ’cause there’s no unity.”
After exiting the UFC in early 2021 following four consecutive losses, Woodley turned his attention to new ventures. Having laced the boxing gloves to face Paul, the former UFC champion claimed to have quadrupled his biggest Octagon salary following his first meeting with the YouTuber.
Do you agree with Tyron Woodley’s take on Jake Paul?