Recently released UFC Fighter Tyron Woodley is expected to be announced later this week as YouTube superstar Jake Paul’s next opponent in the boxing ring.
The bout was first reported by The Athletic and has since been confirmed by multiple other sources, though it’s yet to be made official.
The fight would certainly be a step up in competition for the 24-year-old Paul as unlike his last opponent, another ex-UFC fighter Ben Askren, Woodley is an athletic specimen and has proven striking ability and knockout power in his hands, as the likes of Robbie Lawler, Josh Koscheck and Dong Hyun Kim can testify.
However, though the 39-year-old is a former UFC welterweight champion, his title reign proved to be rather underwhelming, with Woodley appearing to be fighting not to lose rather than to win, which led to him narrowly emerging victorious in some glorified staring contests against the likes of Stephen Thompson and Damien Maia, with a submission victory over Darren Till being the only real highlight of that period.
Woodley would then suffer a lengthy losing streak, being dominated by other top-of-the-food-chain 170lber’s like Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington.
It was clear by this stage that something had to change, with Woodley looking a shadow of his former self and appearing to be struggling to let his hands go, and it seems that he himself finally recognised that as he came out far more offensively in his last fight against aggressive striker Vicente Luque.
It was a strategy that almost paid off as he finally showed some flashes of his dangerous striking and had Luque in trouble early in the fight, but he wasn’t able to finish him and the defensive holes that his ultra-offensive approach led to him being rocked on more than one occasion before being submitted for the first time in his career.
So, overall this is a riskier fight for Paul than his previous bouts, but he and his advisors are clearly banking on the fact that at 39 and coming off a four-fight winning streak, Woodley is well past his best.
There’s also the fact that Paul is continuing to target UFC fighters who have never stepped into the boxing ring before, and aren’t in the same weight class, with Woodley being a 5ft 9″ welterweight with a 74″ reach, while he is a large middleweight standing 6ft 1″ with a 76″ reach.
Still, if nothing else, at least this match-up isn’t a foregone conclusion like the Askren one was.