Two of the biggest personalities in combat sports will clash this summer.
YouTuber-turned-prizefighter Jake Paul and former UFC bad boy Nate Diaz will compete in a boxing match Aug. 5 at American Airlines Center in Dallas, officials told ESPN on Wednesday. The bout will be contested at 185 pounds and is contracted for eight rounds with 10-ounce gloves. The pay-per-view bout will be distributed globally by DAZN.
The event will be a 50-50 collaboration between Paul's Most Valuable Promotions and Diaz's Real Fight Inc. It will be the first time Diaz has ever promoted himself, the first time he will fight outside the UFC in 15 years and his first career pro boxing match. Diaz has competed in some of the biggest pay-per-view events in UFC history, and Paul has made a name for himself as a boxing draw despite his experience level.
Diaz and Paul have exchanged trash talk on social media and in interviews over the past 18 months. In October, during a boxing event headlined by Paul and UFC legend Anderson Silva, Diaz's team and Paul's team got into an altercation backstage. And Paul challenged Diaz in his postfight interview after defeating Silva.
Diaz has typically fought in MMA at 155 pounds and more recently at 170 pounds. Paul has fought as heavy as 191.5 pounds as a pro. He weighed in at 183.6 pounds for Fury.
Paul (6-1) lost his first career boxing match in his last bout to Tommy Fury, the brother of heavyweight great Tyson, back in February via split decision. The Ohio native, who trains out of Puerto Rico, is undefeated against MMA fighters, including Silva, Tyron Woodley and Ben Askren; he beat the latter two by knockout. Paul, 26, has only been a pro since 2020.
"My last fight didn't end the way I wanted, but the result was the best thing that could have happened to my professional boxing aspirations," Paul said in a statement. "Now, the world thinks I am vulnerable, when all I am is more focused than ever. My team wanted me to take an easy fight like KSI next, but that's not how I am built. Nate Diaz is considered one of the most bad-ass fighters of all time, but he and his team have been running their mouths for too long."
Diaz (21-13) fought out his UFC contract with a submission win over Tony Ferguson at UFC 279 in September. The Stockton, California, native handed Conor McGregor his first UFC loss back in 2016. Diaz, 37, has headlined 10 UFC events and won The Ultimate Fighter 5 tournament in 2007. He's one of the most popular fighters in MMA history and is a former sparring partner of top boxer Andre Ward.
"Besides Canelo, he's the biggest thang in boxing," Diaz said in a statement. "I'm here to conquer that. I'm the King of combat sports and then I'm headed back to get my UFC belts. I f---ed up Conor for acting out and now here I am again, like a Super Hero of the Real Fight game, the King of the Real Fight game."
Diaz has made it known that he plans on returning to the UFC in the future with a McGregor trilogy fight still on the table down the road. Paul, meanwhile, had talked about a Tommy Fury rematch next or the aforementioned bout with fellow YouTube star KSI. But Paul vs. Diaz was too big of a matchup to pass up.
"Jake's star power and popularity continue to command massive audiences worldwide," Most Valuable Promotions co-founder Nakisa Bidarian said in a statement. "His most recent bout, Paul vs. Fury, surpassed more than 800,000 pay-per-view purchases and was a commercial success for all our partners. Jake remains one of the most avidly followed fighters in the sport and all eyes are on him, wondering what's next. Well, what's next is one of the most vicious men ever in the cage."
No other fights have been announced for the event, though given the bad blood between the two teams it wouldn't be surprising to see Paul and Diaz teammates on the undercard.
"Nate's departure from the UFC made him the most sought-after free agent in combat sports history with all eyes looking to see what his next move would be," Real Fight Inc. president Zach Rosenfield said in a statement. "In choosing to make his boxing debut against Jake Paul, Nate found an opponent where there is an organic, non-scripted backstory that motivates him and will clearly capture the excitement of audiences throughout the world."