Tyron Woodley likens Jake Paul to a kid who will soon realize he is in over his head.
The former UFC welterweight champion is 39 and has lost four straight mixed martial arts matches, but he is widely viewed as more dangerous than any of the first three opponents Paul defeated in a boxing ring. Woodley was a two-time All-America wrestler for the University of Missouri before becoming a UFC welterweight champion, yet he established a reputation as one of his sport’s harder punchers during his 12-year MMA career.
Woodley thus believes the 24-year-old Paul picked the wrong opponent for what will be a step up in competition August 29. Their Showtime Pay-Per-View main event was officially announced Monday, when it was revealed that it’ll take place at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, near Paul’s hometown of Westlake, Ohio.
“I’m a grown-ass man,” Woodley said as part of the official fight announcement. “I don’t play games with kids. They brought me in to take the trash out. You’re welcome!”
The provocative Paul has knocked out a popular YouTuber, AnEsonGib, former NBA point guard Nate Robinson and a retired UFC fighter, Ben Askren, in his first three pro boxing bouts. Just like Gib, Robinson and Askren, Woodley will make his boxing debut when he opposes Paul next month.
“I’ve always wanted to box my whole life, but never did it,” Woodley said during a press event in Miami last month. “This is my opportunity. This is a kid that’s a power puncher. He’s got a lot of strength behind him. This is going to be a big platform to showcase what I can do in a boxing ring. And he’s a fighter. He can fight. At the end of the day, you can watch him and the timing, the rhythm and the footwork is there.”
While he is very confident that he’ll win, Woodley won’t develop a false sense of security because Paul is inexperienced.
“He’s trying to downplay his ability,” Woodley said. “He’s a fighter. Don’t let him play you by saying, ‘I’m just a YouTuber.’ Last week, he was a fighter. When he was saying nobody wanted to fight him, he was a fighter. You’re not a YouTuber anymore. You’re not on Disney. It’s been a long time since he was on Disney. That’s like me saying I’m just a collegiate wrestler and I don’t punch people.”
Woodley is 19-7-1, including seven knockouts, in MMA matches. The Ferguson, Missouri native lost his last UFC fight by first-round submission to New Jersey’s Vicente Luque on March 27, as part of UFC 260 at UFC Apex in Enterprise, Nevada.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.