Wednesday’s announcement for Jake Paul versus Nate Diaz came somewhat out of left field, but it’s true: Two of the biggest names in combat sports are set to collide this summer.

Paul, the YouTuber-turned-prizefighter, and Diaz, one of the biggest stars in UFC history, will meet in an eight-round pro boxing match Aug. 5 in Dallas.

Here are some thoughts about the fight and what it could mean for both Paul and Diaz.

1. This is a big-time matchup. Here’s the reality: Even if you don’t think Paul-Diaz will be overly entertaining or competitive, you’re probably still going to watch. Paul and Diaz are both legitimate draws in the combat sports world; Diaz has been for years, and Paul has taken boxing by storm since 2020. People care about them and what they do.

Paul is a polarizing figure. Some want him to win and succeed, while others want him to lose and leave boxing forever. Either way, people watch his fights. Now, he has a legitimate A-side opponent. Truthfully, Diaz is the first one. Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, Tommy Fury, and even Anderson Silva to a lesser degree were all B-sides from a promotional standpoint. Diaz, though, is one of the biggest names in MMA history, a longtime fan favorite before ascending to mainstream stardom with a win over former UFC two-division champion Conor McGregor in 2016.

You can tell Paul-Diaz is a big fight by the way it was announced. A press release was sent out with quotes from both fighters; Paul and Diaz both tweeted about the news almost immediately; and, heck, they even had a trailer ready to go. Most fight announcements – in MMA and boxing – pale in comparison these days. Plus, Paul-Diaz is four months away. This much time between a fight being announced and it taking place isn’t the norm these days. There’s a lot of time for anticipation to build, for Paul and Diaz to potentially go on a promotional tour, talk trash on social media, and engage in a handful of intense faceoffs. That’ll only help the pay-per-view numbers come Aug. 5.

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2. Diaz was the right opponent for Paul. After Paul suffered his first career loss to Fury in February, Paul-Diaz didn’t seem like the obvious next fight. It had been talked about for well over a year at that point, but was it the right time? Paul placed his attention on a Fury rematch, with a matchup against fellow YouTube star KSI being a wild-card option. Plus, it wasn’t clear whether Diaz would still be interested in facing Paul after he came up short. Historically, he likes to fight winners.

But once it was announced, it became apparent that there is, in fact, no better time to do the fight – and no bigger opponent for Paul than Diaz. Paul losing actually makes the matchup a bit more intriguing. Diaz would’ve been a heavy underdog before Paul’s defeat, especially if Paul had beaten Fury to prove himself as a real boxer. But now? Paul will still be favored to win, as Diaz is older, smaller, and has no pro boxing experience. And if we’re being honest, the matchup is basically tailor-made for Paul. But he showed some holes in his boxing fundamentals against Fury, which will give fans more belief in Diaz.

Throughout almost his entire career, Paul has catered to the MMA world more so than boxing. He has fought some of the biggest names in MMA like Silva and Woodley – not the other way around. That’s his shtick. After losing to Fury, Paul might’ve realized that keeping his name prevalent in the MMA sphere – especially as he gets closer to his planned MMA debut with the PFL in 2024 – is more important and will help maximize his financial success. Fighting Diaz certainly does that. It gets his name back in the limelight after the loss to Fury, and it does so with relatively low risk.

3. Paul is giving up on being a “real” boxer. Look, Paul never started training in boxing to become the next Canelo Alvarez. Already in his early 20s when he started, Paul wasn’t going to magically become a future world champion overnight. It doesn’t work like that. Paul might say otherwise, but this experiment, which started with fights against a fellow internet personality and then a former NBA player, was always about building his name and making a boatload of money – and he’s exceeded expectations in both.

Paul seemed to turn a corner with the Fury fight, as it was his first time facing someone with genuine boxing experience and would, in a way, determine whether or not he was a legitimate boxer. But he lost to Fury in a split decision that should’ve been unanimous. And now he’s right back to the old-MMA-fighter gimmick. We can’t blame him for this financially smart decision, but take the Diaz fight as a sign that Paul isn’t serious about having a legitimate boxing career.

4. A Paul win makes the Fury rematch a lot bigger. Even if Paul is focused on fighting older MMA fighters, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to try to avenge his only career loss. If Paul can beat Fury the second time, then maybe the boxing community will finally pay him his respects. However, jumping into an immediate rematch would’ve been risky. Fury was clearly the better boxer, and Paul likely needs a significant amount of growth to best the half brother of Tyson Fury. There wouldn’t have been enough time. And losing two straight fights could spell the end for Paul in the boxing world.

That’s where the Diaz fight comes into play. A victory would give Paul momentum again. Even if he lost to Fury again, it wouldn’t be that harmful to his career.

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5. Diaz fighting Paul sets up a huge return to the UFC. If Diaz pulled off the upset against Paul, could you imagine how big a return to the UFC would be? And even if he loses, he’d still have momentum from the fight. Diaz has already said he plans to compete in the Octagon again one day. He left the promotion as a free agent in 2022 because he wanted to pursue some other lucrative opportunities – such as the Paul fight. And after 15 years in the UFC, it was the right time to move on. But even Diaz will tell you he has unfinished business in the UFC. While he still has sights on a championship, the more realistic option is a trilogy bout with McGregor.

Diaz beat the Irishman by submission in 2016, and then McGregor avenged that loss just months later. Both fights were among the biggest pay-per-view events in UFC history. Since then, McGregor and Diaz have gone their own ways, but there’s always been talk of the trilogy fight. It might not be as big now as it would’ve been five years ago, but McGregor-Diaz 3 will always be a pay-per-view blockbuster. McGregor is planning to return to the UFC later this year in a matchup against Michael Chandler, and win or lose, perhaps Diaz will be next.

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