While you might scoff that the Jake Paul vs. Ben Askren fight on Saturday night is actually a thing available for people to watch and bet on, those who have created the odds for the match between the YouTube star and the former MMA standout have seen them shift.
At first, Paul was the solid favorite, but according to one online sports book, 62% of the money then came in on Askren. Now, the odds have galloped back toward Paul’s side, because, as of Wednesday, Paul was the -200 favorite and Askren was the +160 underdog.
But even though this still should be considered a pick ‘em fight, that’s not necessarily how fellow boxers and mixed martial artists see it. They might point to Askren’s subpar striking and Paul’s early-career success in the ring as proof that Paul will win. Others might say that Askren is a world-class athlete and Paul is nothing more than a social media creation and then predict Askren will pull out the victory.
“It’s a wild fight. I don’t know what to think,” UFC flyweight Joseph Benavidez said, via MMA Zone. “Jake Paul looks athletic and that he trains hard. The crazy thing about people like that when you’re just getting started, you’re fearless because you haven’t been beaten up yet. I think he picked the best opponent to highlight himself. There’s not a more accomplished MMA fight than Ben Askren that’s not as equipped in boxing.”
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Either way, people are betting, and people undoubtedly will watch to see what happens on PPV on Saturday. So, let’s talk to the fighters and experts of combat sports who know these boxers better than most anybody else to see about their predictions.
Leon Edwards: The UFC welterweight contender who is coming off a no contest vs. Belal Muhammad and who could be facing Nate Diaz at UFC 262 thinks Paul is going to blast out Askren. And Edwards thinks that’s hilarious. “He’s going to get knocked out, I’m serious,” Edwards told talkSPORT. “It’s going to be bad for MMA, man. I don’t know who agreed to this. I don’t think it’s going to be good for MMA and he’s going to get chinned. But, it’s going to be funny to see.”
Teofimo Lopez: The lightweight boxing champion certainly didn’t mince words when asked about his Paul vs. Askren prediction by the Mayweather Channel on YouTube. “Man, Ben, you’d better whoop his [freakin’ butt].” But is that your prediction, that Askren will destroy Paul? Said Lopez: “Yes.”
Colby Covington: Perhaps the most controversial figure in all of MMA, the MAGA-loving welterweight thinks Paul is a joke. And he thinks Askren will get rid of him and bring some pride to the sport. “Hopefully Ben goes out there and knocks out Jake Paul,” Covington said, via BJPenn.com. “I’m just sick of hearing him talk. He’s just running his mouth and there’s no substance behind anything he says. I think he will [beat Paul], I think he’s just going to put that pressure on him. If he uses the clinch and just ties him up and just gets him tired, there’s no doubt he has a better gas tank than Jake Paul—some little YouTuber. The kid’s a complete joke, he’s an embarrassment to society, he’s an embarrassment to the MMA and boxing world in general. I hope Ben goes out there and shuts his mouth.”
Sean O’Malley: The UFC bantamweight doesn’t usually get excited for fights that involve others. But even though he knows Paul vs. Askren isn’t going to be a technical masterpiece, he looks forward to watching the sloppiness unfold before him. “I want to say Jake [will win] because he’s going to be a [better] boxer. But Ben is such a good competitor,” O’Malley told MMA Weekly. “It’s not going to be a good boxing fight. I hope Jake doesn’t try to put his lights out in the first two rounds. He’s going to gas out. Ben is going to be there all eight rounds. Ben is not going to gas. If Jake comes out calm and doesn’t get too excited, I think he can outbox him and stay behind his jab. I think Jake can get the job done.”
Demetrious Johnson: The legendary MMA featherweight said if somebody came to him and offered him $1 million to bet on the Paul-Askren fight, Johnson said he’d lay it all on Paul. “Ben Askren hasn’t been the best striker in mixed martial arts,” Johnson told MMA Fighting. “Do I think he’ll be the best striker in boxing? I would say I don’t think it’s gonna happen. … Yes, I know Jake Paul is a YouTube star. He’s training just as hard as a world champion is. He has unlimited access to the best trainers in the world. He has the funding, not saying Ben Askren doesn’t but anytime you fight somebody who has training, there’s always that chance. I’m not discounting Ben Askren out of this fight. … [But] I think [Paul is] gonna win the fight.”
Chatri Sityodtong: The chairman of ONE Championship is pointing toward Askren, especially if he and Paul engage in a firefight. “In a real street fight, he would destroy Jake Paul,” Sityodtong told Insider. “But this is a boxing match, which is Ben’s worst discipline. And Jake Paul does have knockout power—you can see it, you know, when you hit pads. But it’s one thing to hit pads and it’s another to get in a war. And if this fight gets into a war, I see Jake Paul breaking.”