Tons of people out there would likely pay a lot of money to avoid going head to head with an established MMA fighter, but YouTube celeb Jake Paul is very much on the opposite end of that spectrum. Paul only recently went public with his $50 million challenge to UFC star Conor McGregor, and bolstered that by calling out several other fighters he'd be keen on facing in the boxing ring following his PPV bout with Nate Robinson. His comments set the Internet ablaze, and now one of his proposed challengers has accepted the match with some heated words of his own.
Former Bellator and ONE Fighting Championship champion Ben Askren took to Twitter with a video response that is almost hilariously subdued, considering everything he's saying. Here's how Askren started things off:
Yes, Mr. Jake Paul, I do accept. I know you called me out after your last fight against that bum Nate Robinson, and listen, it’s a pretty simple choice. I’m going to make a whole bunch of money to beat up a guy who is pretending to be an athlete. Because at the end of the day, that’s what you’re doing. And I know you may think I do not have too many standup skills, but also at the end of the day, I don’t really need to.
This is the point where Jake Paul should grow Bugs Bunny ears and get right up in Ben Askren's face to say, "Of course you know, this means war." With his response, Askren doesn't sound the slightest bit nervous about stepping into the ring with Paul. Rather, he sounds more excited about the prospect of a big payday to take down what he sees as a negligible risk.
Ben Askren continued by listing off some of his athletic achievements, and then calls Jake Paul out for being "deluded" enough to consider himself a fighter. Read on:
I’m a world-class athlete. I’ve won NCAA titles. I’ve been in the Olympics. I’ve won belts in multiple mixed martial arts organizations, and quite frankly, I am impressed that you’ve deluded yourself into thinking you are actually a fighter! That you are really tough, that you can really box. It’s quite impressive that beating up another YouTuber and beating up a boxer who looked like he had never been in the ring before makes you somehow good at boxing, because it doesn’t. So yes, Jake, I accept. I will see you March 28 in Los Angeles, and I will humble you like millions of people want to see happen.
To be sure, Ben Askren accepting Jake Paul's challenge is not a full confirmation that the boxing match is actually going to happen. Especially since several other fighters have already shown their eagerness to also get in the ring with the Internet star. The UFC's Michael Bisping is down to clown, for one, and Amanda Nunes agreed with Dana White's humorous threat to get her to "knock [Paul's] ass out." However, the fact that Askren specifically went with a March 28 date in Los Angeles seems to indicate that there were indeed some official discussions being had behind the scenes.
You can watch Ben Askren's video response below.
It's somewhat surprising that Ben Askren is so eager to accept this challenge, considering he retired from MMA bouts in 2019 after a three-fight stint in the UFC. Askren had to have hip replacement surgery in the interim, and while he likely won't be making any full-time returns to the UFC or Bellator, he has expressed interest in taking on smaller-scale one-off fights, though I can't imagine he had Jake Paul in mind for his first post-retirement squabble.
For now, everything is still up in the air – including Nate Robinson's own fighting future – but there's a good chance MMA fans will get to watch Jake Paul taking on Ben Askren in a boxing match in early 2021. While waiting to see what happens, head to our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule and our Winter and Spring 2021 TV guide to see what new and returning shows are coming soon.