Why are Jake Paul and Ben Askren fighting? A callout lured ex-MMA champion out of retirement

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Jake Paul will look to improve his boxing record to 3-0 on April 17 when he steps into the ring with former MMA champion Ben Askren on Triller’s Fight Club.

Paul started his pro boxing career in January 2020 with a first-round knockout against fellow YouTuber AnEsonGib. He followed that with a knockout of former NBA player Nate Robinson in November on the undercard of Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones. This will be the first time that Paul steps into the ring with a former fighter.

Askren is a two-time Division I wrestling national champion who became a champion at Bellator and ONE Championship before finishing his mixed martial arts career in the UFC. He amassed a record of 19-2 before retiring from the sport in November 2018.

How did a fight between a YouTuber and a former MMA champion happen?

RELATED: Jake Paul accused of sexual assault by TikTok star

Why are Jake Paul and Jake Paul fighting?

Before and after his second-round knockout over former NBA player Nate Robinson last November, Jake Paul called out several MMA fighters to step into a boxing ring with him. Among them were Conor McGregor, Nate Diaz, Dillon Danis, Jorge Masvidal and Ben Askren. Although some suggested they’d take the fight on social media, only the recently retired Askren made it clear that he’d be more than willing to meet the YouTube celebrity for a fight. 

“Boxing, that seems kind of easy,” Askren told Submission Radio about the possibility of stepping into the ring following hip surgery. “Like, I’m sure I could do that. Like, there’s no shots, there’s no slams, there’s not leg locks. I dunno, that seems relatively safe to me.”

Askren wasn’t impressed with Paul’s knockout of Robinson and stated that he’s sure he’d fare much better than Robinson and AnEsonGib, a YouTuber that Paul stopped in the first round last January.

“It’s hard to say when you’re going against someone who’s that bad,” Askren said. “I watched the highlights, Nate Robinson, good god. I mean, honestly, it looked like he’d never been boxing before. For someone who’s such an elite athlete – I mean, this guy’s a very elite athlete, he was a great basketball player – he couldn’t box worth a damn.

“Obviously I’m someone who is a high-level fighter, who has a large following, who was maybe not known for his stand-up. I think that’s probably what he’s thinking.”

After a bit of back and forth on social media, it was announced that Paul would return to the ring in April for a fight on Triller against Askren in an eight-round cruiserweight bout. 

Since the fight was announced, the two have ramped up their rivalry on social media with Paul dragging Askren’s wife into the feud. The feud heated up at a March press conference where words were exchanged and it nearly became physical during the staredown. 

Both have made promises to knock out the other but only one will come out victorious on April 17. 

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