In the buildup to their recent clash, Paul continually teased Diaz with a $10 million proposition to have another fight in MMA, now that he’s joined the PFL. Paul managed to achieve a unanimous decision victory over Diaz in a challenging 10-round boxing match, but he might discover that an MMA bout could end much more quickly if he chooses to go through with it.
“Nate will demolish this guy in MMA,” said Diaz’s longtime teammate Gilbert Melendez, discussing the potential fight on the latest edition of The Fighter vs. The Writer podcast. “I’d be excited to see it. I’d love to see it in boxing as well. Have a rematch in boxing and then in MMA.”
Melendez, who watched the fight ringside last Saturday night, commended Diaz for his performance against Paul, especially since it was Diaz’s first time competing in professional boxing.
While Paul’s advantage in experience, with seven professional boxing fights, was clear, Melendez thinks the real issue for Diaz was the size difference. The bout occurred at 185 pounds, with Diaz used to competing at 155 pounds, while Paul had to lose weight to meet the mark.
Melendez observed, “[Nate] was unmistakably a superior fighter, and although the power favored the young man, the endurance was with Jake Paul. But as the fight wore on, I saw the momentum shift again, particularly in the 9th and 10th rounds. However, the size disparity had an effect, and a smaller fighter would have likely succumbed earlier.”
Melendez expressed his belief that Diaz performed well, but there were two pivotal moments that Jake Paul seized, forcing Nate to attempt a comeback. This was particularly evident in the fifth round, where Nate was momentarily staggered, and in the tenth, when Jake Paul was clinging on and letting the clock run down.
In the event of an MMA rematch, even at 185 pounds, Diaz’s superior grappling skills would give him a tremendous edge over Paul. Melendez argues that while Paul could find success in MMA, taking on a seasoned competitor like Diaz would be setting himself up for failure.
He explained, “You might land a good punch, but in MMA, we can clinch, and there’s no ref to break it up. What happens then? It’s a different sport altogether. You can train and achieve a blue belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, but attaining a black belt takes a great deal of time.”
Melendez further highlighted the complexity of learning grappling and wrestling compared to boxing and the additional challenges of integrating kicks, jiu-jitsu, and wrestling in MMA.
Besides grappling, Melendez also noted the significant differences in striking techniques between MMA and boxing, another area where Diaz would likely dominate Paul.
“Striking with MMA gloves is an entirely different beast,” Melendez remarked. “The punches, the angles, the dirty boxing, it’s a totally different game.”
He praised Paul’s courage to try MMA, a crossover few boxers have dared to attempt, but, as often stated by Daniel Cormier, there are levels to the game.
Paul wouldn’t be squaring off against a beginner; he would be taking on Diaz, a veteran of over 30 fights, with victories over two ex-UFC champions and a host of unforgettable bouts against the elite of MMA during his 19-year career.
“It’s a whole different sport,” concluded Melendez. “I’m eager to see it, and I genuinely hope they have a rematch, in boxing or MMA.”
Listeners can catch new episodes of The Fighter vs. The Writer every Tuesday on platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and Stitcher.