Jake Paul Says Fight with Nate Diaz 'First and Foremost' Among Potential Opponents

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVJuly 9, 2022

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 29: Most Valuable Promotions founder Jake Paul speaks during the Weigh-In leading up to the World Lightweight Title fight between Katie Taylor and Amanda Serrano at The Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden on April 29, 2022 in New York, New York. The bout will be the first women's combat sports fight to headline Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Jake Paul named longtime MMA star Nate Diaz as his most desired boxing opponent following his Aug. 6 clash with Hasim Rahman Jr. at Madison Square Garden.

Paul told TMZ Sports in an interview released Saturday that he's just waiting for Diaz to wrap up his UFC run.

"I think Nate Diaz is first and foremost," he said. "That's the one that everyone's been wanting. Everyone knows he only has one or two fights left with the UFC."

The YouTube star, who's opened his boxing career with a 5-0 record, said Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. is also a future option. Chavez was under consideration to replace Tommy Fury for the August fight before Rahman was selected.

Paul previously told TMZ that fighting Fury isn't off the table despite the British boxer being unavailable for their first two scheduled bouts, first because of injury and then for visa issues. He isn't convinced Fury actually wants to face off, though.

"I don't buy it," he said. "I had multiple people hit me up that said, 'I can get him in. I have connections to people at the embassy. We'll get him his visa, no problem.' And I DM'd Tommy, and he just went into hiding."

Meanwhile, Paul may not have to wait for Diaz's UFC contract to expire for that marquee showdown to the place.

UFC President Dana White told The Mac Life in June (via Yahoo Sports' Jack Baer) they are trying to find a fight for Diaz, but his best option may be leaving the Octagon for the boxing ring.

"Nate has won one fight in five years. We're trying to figure this out thing thing out with him," White said. "He probably should go on and fight Jake Paul. That's a fight that makes sense."

Those comments came after Diaz posted a message on Twitter asking for a fight before the end of August with a video of Paul knocking out former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley:

Nathan Diaz @NateDiaz209

Ufc release now please or give me fight with anyone in July or august <br>I have bigger shit to do <a href="https://t.co/xyYSCBysLs">pic.twitter.com/xyYSCBysLs</a>

Whether he gets his UFC fight or not, it seems like making the switch to boxing for what will likely be a lucrative matchup with Paul is almost a foregone conclusion.

Paul is trying to work his way through the boxing ranks via attention-grabbing bouts rather than the traditional route of taking on a series of lower-level opponents.

He's scored a pair of wins over Woodley along with triumphs over former MMA fighter Ben Askren, former NBA guard Nate Robinson and fellow YouTuber Ali "AnEsonGib" Al-Fakhri.

It's hard to know exactly how much of a future he has in the fight game, but strong performances against the likes of Rahman, Chavez and/or Fury could make quite a statement.

A clash with Diaz, who at 37 is no longer near the peak of his powers, would fall more in the made-for-hype category, but it would still be an intriguing encounter.