UFC president Dana White allegedly instructed the promotion not to ask about Jake Paul at the pressers.
Internet sensation turned boxer Paul is set to collide with legendary mixed martial artist Anderson Silva this Saturday at Desert Diamond Arena in Glendale, Arizona. Paul goes into the bout undefeated in five professional outings as a boxer. After scoring vicious knockouts of former MMA champion Ben Askren and former UFC titleholder Tyron Woodley, he will look to add another UFC champion to his resume in what would likely be his toughest challenge yet.
During the build-up to the match, Paul alleged that White was making an active effort to hurt the event’s promotion, tweeting, “Dana White is doing everything he can to hurt the Anderson Silva PPV promotion. The same Silva he said I would never fight. The same Silva he has kept out of UFC Hall of Fame. Just shows how much he fears what I’m doing. Trust me change is coming & we are getting organized.”
Stephen Espinoza Believes White Gave Instructions About Paul v Silva at UFC 280
‘The Problem Child’ did not expand further, leaving many perplexed about the context of his message. On Oct. 26, Showtime Sports president Stephen Espinoza chimed in with his take on the inflammatory statements.
He argued White was trying to slow down the promotion of the upcoming pay-per-view.
“I think it’s a lot of little things, a lot of circumstantial things,” Espinoza said in an interview with MMA Fighting. “I didn’t watch the entire press conference [at UFC 280], but I didn’t see Dana asked about Jake during this last UFC event, this past weekend, which is unusual because he always gets asked [about Jake]. He may not answer, but he always [does get asked]. Obviously, I wasn’t there overseas at the event, but you wonder at that point it’s certainly a departure from what has happened in the past.
“My assumption would be — perhaps incorrect, perhaps correct — that everyone was instructed not to ask about it. I doubt it’s because no one is interested. When they asked about it event after event before this one, and then this one there are no questions on it.”
Espinoza Shared the Threat Paul Poses to the UFC
According to Espinoza, Paul presents a real threat to the UFC with his boxing promotion. Given all the controversy surrounding fighter pay in the most elite MMA organization, Espinoza theorized more fighters could follow suit.
“I think [the UFC is] uncomfortable whenever someone brings up the issue of fighter pay,” Espinoza said. “They’re very defensive. There are issues there to look at. The structure and the treatment, a lot of what Jake says has a lot of merit.
“But I also think that there’s a threat in what Jake is doing in the entrepreneurial sense. Yes, he’s aligned with Showtime now, he’s been aligned with other platforms before but he is literally taking his business, his life’s dream and he’s partnered with us of course we’re helping monetize that but at a certain point, he is going out and finding his own opponents. He is doing a lot of the marketing himself.
He is proving at a certain point with enough of a fan base, you can go on your own. You can be entrepreneurial. You don’t have to be with a huge promotion throughout your career and I think that is a threat to the established order of combat sports.”