One of the biggest combat sports PPVs of the year had nothing to do with championship belts or highly talented boxers. Back in August, former UFC title challenger Nate Diaz took his talents out of the Octagon for the first time in 15 years to take on celebrity pugilist Jake Paul for 10 rounds of professional boxing.
The result was a fairly lackluster affair, marked by heavy opening salvos early in rounds by Paul and late rallies as Paul started to slow from Diaz. By the end, Paul had won a clear and comfortable decision, taking the bout 97-92, 98-91, 98-91 from the three ringside judges. Despite the uncontroversial first result, expectations of a rematch have persisted, with Paul claiming he wants to face Diaz in an MMA bout for the PFL.
“Look, I respect Nate because he’s the people’s champ,” PFL owner Donn Davis said in a recent interview on the MMA Hour. “He’s a man’s man. His standup is all standup. But he said, ‘I’ll do it in the PFL SmartCage’ two minutes to you after the fight. He’s got a standing offer of between 10 and 15 million, and he’s hiding behind a rock.”
Nate Diaz responds to PFL and Jake Paul
If Nate Diaz ever articulated that he was willing to fight Jake Paul in MMA, it doesn’t sound like he’s all that interested at this point.
The Stockton native was notably reticent about the idea of fighting Paul in the PFL in the lead-up to their bout, and has been vocal about his desire to return to the UFC at some point in the near future. In a recent message on his Twitter account, Diaz gave his response to the PFL’s supposed $10-15 million offer. It’s a big ‘no thanks’.
Considering how unlikely it feels that Nate Diaz would get a similarly generous offer to make his UFC return—if it’s something he can still even secure at this point—it’s hard to understand on the surface why he’d turn that kind of money down. especially since, in practically the same breath, the 38-year-old Ultimate Fighter winner is still campaigning for a rematch against Paul.
Darren Till on avoiding the PFL
That said, Nate Diaz wouldn’t exactly be the first fighter to pass on a PFL offer for the potential of a UFC return. Derrick Lewis notably spent about two days in free agency, with the potential of a rematch against Francis Ngannou in the PFL staring him in the face, before signing a new 8-fight UFC contract.
In a recent interview, former UFC welterweight title contender Darren Till laid out his own reasons for giving the UFC rival promotion a miss. Despite being exactly the kind of free agent the promotion may be hunting for with upcoming PPV plans looming, Till (like Nate Diaz) left the UFC with the express plan of trying some other combat sports options and then making his return.
“I sort of made a little promise, but not promise,” Till said, speaking of his free agency. “I said ‘I don’t want to go off straight away and do MMA. My heads a little battered and I just sort of want to be released and see what me options are.’ That was eight months ago. I’ve had some crazy offers since I left, by big MMA organizations, and I turned them all down. I’ve been in talks with some of them, but again, I wouldn’t go down that disrespectful route of starting straightaway with the PFL.”
“I feel like I’ve done it the right way. … What’s the point of saying to [UFC Business Officer] Hunter [Campbell], ‘I need some time off to relieve the pressure,’ and then go sign with the PFL or Bellator or ONE or something like that? It just makes no sense.”
Instead, reports have recently surfaced that Till is in talks for some kind of bout (potentially boxing, but unclear) against noted social media influencer Magomed Ismailov at a still to be determined event in Russia. Ismailov has a long history in MMA competing for ProFC and Absolute Championship Akhmat, but recently turned his talents to boxing, where he’s 3-0. In his last bout defeating disgraced former UFC signing Ivan Shtyrkov.
If that fight does go through, it will mark Till’s first bout since a third round submission loss to Dricus Du Plessis in 2022. The Liverpudlian has been remarkably inactive over the past three years, largely due to injury troubles. He has not won an MMA bout since a lackluster split decision over Kelvin Gastelum in 2019.
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