Casual fans are going as far as to suggest that he's the MMA legend slayer. On April 17, in his second professional boxing match against MMA legend Ben Askren, the fight was stopped at 1:59 of the first round after Paul landed a powerful right hand that knocked Askren to the canvas and rendered him unable to continue.
On August 29, he won via split decision against former Welterweight champion Tyron Woodley. In their December 18 rematch, he ended the rivalry with a massive shot that left Woodley face down in the sixth round.
After Woodley's terrible loss, MMA purists are wondering: Does his legacy suffer after losing to a Disney Kid turned YouTuber turned boxer? In spite of his outstanding run as UFC welterweight champion, this defeat to Paul could have irreparable damage to how he’s remembered.
Many hard-core MMA fans consider Woodley to be one of the best welterweights of all time. His fighting style could be boring to watch when he refused to engage opponents, but he still defended his title four times and ran through feared opponents like Carlos Condit, Robbie Lawler, and Darren Till.
s.yimg.com / Yahoo
Unfortunately, the only thing "casual" fans will remember is the former champ losing a split decision to a silly YouTuber and being knocked out cold in the rematch.
Tyron didn’t have the biggest name in the UFC, so his fights with Paul were the most high-profile of his career. It’s been reported that he earned more money in those two boxing matches than he did during his entire reign as UFC champion.
It doesn't matter how annoying Jake Paul is, he is a better boxer than most people give him credit for. He’s more skilled at using his jab, putting combinations together and making better decisions than Woodley.
Woodley's greatest strength has always been his defensive prowess in MMA. He's always been difficult to hit with a clean shot, having been knocked out only once before in 2012 by Nate Marquardt. That makes Paul's knockout even more impressive.
During his time in the UFC, Woodley struggled to compete against more well-rounded fighters and those who took advantage of his inactivity. He has been defeated by Gilbert Burns, Colby Covington, and Vicente Luque since losing the welterweight title to Kamaru Usman at UFC 235 in 2019.
Woodley lying face down will define his image in the minds of many casual fans since they make up the majority of MMA followers. They will shape the narrative of his legacy based on that moment rather than his entire career. Insignificantly, Woodley and MMA purists will remember his entire career, during his rise and reign as champion.
In reality, he should be remembered as being one of the best in the UFC. He was a former champion who achieved great success in the octagon by defeating some of the division's elite.
Regardless of how boring his style is, most fighters will never achieve his level of success. In his prime, he was a great wrestler and one of the most explosive and powerful strikers, capable of knocking out or TKOing opponents with punches and even leg kicks, as he did against Carlos Condit.
The opportunity presented itself for him to earn the biggest paycheck of his career in boxing, but things didn't work out as planned. He wasn't defeated by a YouTube star or a former Disney child; he was defeated by a better, more experienced boxer.
Fairly speaking, Jake Paul is an improving boxer who has all the time in the world to train. A 39-year-old Woodley competed against a 24-year-old Paul in a sport he didn't have any prior experience in, and he lost. Although the second loss was pretty bad, his legacy should remain intact.
In most sports, fighters hope to leave behind a legacy and have an impact. Khabib Nurmagomedov and Floyd Mayweather are prime examples of what that looks like at the highest levels of MMA and boxing.
Are big paydays and the chance of becoming the next viral meme really worth jeopardizing that kind of legacy? It depends on who you ask.
- LEGACY OF MASTERY: The Testimonials of Ernie Reyes, Sr. | “ONE ... ›
- UFC - Black Belt Magazine ›
- Tyron Woodley gets "I Love Jake Paul" Tattoo, Wants Rematch ›