Photo by Cooper Neill/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images
Following the stunning conclusion of the event where Leon Edwards knocked out Kamaru Usman in the final minute of their welterweight championship main event, Paul put out a number of tweets making jokes at Usman’s expense. Prior to that, the undefeated boxer took shots at the co-main event between Paulo Costa and Luke Rockhold, calling it “embarrassing” and said that both men would be “easy money” if he was to face either one of them.
With Paul, on numerous occasions, taking the UFC to task for fighter pay and seemingly taking a stance against the promotion for fighters’ rights, Thomas isn’t quite sure what Paul was trying to accomplish.
“It’s very contradictory, right? Whose side are you actually on?” Thomas told MMA Fighting. “He’s in a position where he might be the most popular fighter around. He and Conor might be the most popular fighters, and he’s done a lot for combat sports. You can’t take that away from him. He’s done a lot for combat sports — for women, for men, boxing, all of that — he’s brought a lot of attention to combat sports, and to the fighters, but a lot of times, it’s for the wrong reasons.
“On one hand, you’re trying to get everybody paid, you cancel your show but you still pay your fighters half the money, that’s a good thing. A lot of promoters wouldn’t have done that, but he did — I guess maybe to save face, but he’s got the money. But the reality is, in terms of standing up for fighters, he’s not standing up for fighters.
“When you go on there and you rip a guy like Usman, and then you’re ripping legends like Luke Rockhold, dude, what are you doing?” Thomas continued. “You just came out [in the game], you’re 24 years old. I’ve been fighting longer than he’s been alive and he’s dogging people, he’s dogging fighters.”
Thomas is certainly familiar with the YouTube star-turned-pro boxer as a longtime coach of former UFC welterweight champion and two-time opponent Tyron Woodley. Paul was victorious in both meetings between the two in the boxing ring in 2021, including a vicious KO win in their second matchup this past December.
When it comes to advocating for fighter pay and fighter’s rights, Thomas sees where Paul could make a difference if he truly wanted. In his eyes, it shouldn’t be for the UFC’s athletes, but the ones on the road to making it to the big show.
“If you really want to help and you think fighter pay is bad, continue to run your shows, and continue to pay fighters more,” Thomas said. “In the grand scheme of things, in the world of MMA, not the world of UFC, but the world of MMA, UFC fighters are fine. They are doing just fine, and most of them are happy. Maybe a couple of them aren’t, but most of them are happy, most of them are lucky, and most of them are blessed to be in the position they’re in. Because when you’re not in the UFC and you’re still putting your body on the line, still training like you’re fighting in the UFC and your health is still on the line, and the risk is still the same in these other organizations, you ain’t making no money.
“That’s who Jake Paul needs to help, not the UFC guys. Don’t go to the UFC guys and say they need help. UFC I see guys at the [Performance Institute] getting free food, free medical care, free resources, they get taken care of. It’s these guys at these other shows that are making $1,000 a fight, or still getting beat up for a couple hundred bucks, those are the ones Jake Paul needs to take care of. Don’t worry about the UFC guys, or dog them, worry about the guys on the regional scene, or these under shows that are making no money.”
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