YouTube star Jake Paul said his April boxing match against MMA veteran Ben Askren is merely a brief pit stop on his journey to eventually face off with the likes of Conor McGregor and Nate Diaz.
Paul, 24, told TMZ Sports in an interview released Wednesday he's trying to establish himself as a legitimate rising star in the fight game.
"My ultimate goal is to fight the Nate Diazs, the Conor McGregors ... those are all MMA guys," he said. "I think people will have to take me seriously after this fight and since I do want Diaz, since I do want McGregor, since I do want these people in the UFC, this is the first step to get there. You can't just come into the NBA and be LeBron [James] so I have to earn my stripes."
Paul noted he took on the fight with Askren, who he's planning to add to the "meme collection," because a win can help him start building credibility.
"At the end of the day, this is why I took the fight because he's a legitimate pro and again, I'm a Disney channel actor YouTuber-kid," he said.
Askren, who retired from MMA in November 2019 with a 19-2 record, laughed off Paul's vision for their matchup.
"He's a f--king YouTube star," Askren told TMZ. "I'm gonna beat him up."
Paul is 2-0 in his newfound boxing career with victories over fellow YouTube personality Ali "AnEsonGib" Al-Fakhri and former NBA guard Nate Robinson.
Facing off with Askren, 36, is a completely different type of challenge given his extensive fighting background, and a victory would help Paul's quest for legitimacy.
A lopsided loss would be a blow to his hopes of eventually challenging McGregor or Diaz.