A great moment in combat sports history won’t be taking place in Atlanta on Saturday night when influencer Jake Paul takes on wrestling champion and mixed martial artist Ben Askren. It’s a fight you won’t be telling your grandkids about someday (we hope), but it’s a very shiny object that should do a large box office and pay-per-view numbers.
We break down what you need to know below, including a look at how the betting public is approaching this fight.
Ben “Funky” Askren is 19-2 as an MMA fighter, but has yet to box in his career. After finishing his MMA career two straight losses to Jorge Masvidal (in just five seconds) and Demian Maia, Askren retired and got hip surgery. The 36-year-old was a two-time NCAA wrestling champion at Missouri, and a former Bellator and ONE welterweight title holder.
After a long back-and-forth on social media, he accepted a fight with Paul despite having never boxed previously. Both of these guys aren’t afraid to run their mouths on podcasts or videos, so it makes sense that they’re getting in the ring for a payday.
Jake Paul has boxed twice: He stopped fellow YouTuber’r AnEsonGib in the first round in January of 2020, and then on the undercard of a Mike Tyson vs. Roy Jones Jr. bout in November of 2020, he knocked out former NBA player Nate Robinson cold in the second round.
Paul is a YouTube “celebrity,” actor and rapper, and has 14.8 million followers on Instagram (just over 6% of Ariana Grande’s total). His brother Logan got a Stone Cold Stunner from Kevin Owens on Sunday night at WrestleMania.
This shouldn’t be a classic, but it will be the first time Paul has faced an actual professional combat sports athlete. While Askren hasn’t boxed, winning 19 bouts as an MMA competitor means he’s done plenty of work in the standup game.
Also on this card is former UFC champion and 41-year-old Frank Mir against 52-year-old multi-division boxing champion Antonio Tarver. The pay-per-view cost is $50, and will be available through iNDemand domestically, and Fite TV across the rest of the world. The card starts at 8 p.m. ET, and the pay-per-view section kicks off at 9 p.m. ET.
Moneyline betting splits
Jake Paul is favored in this fight at DraftKings Sportsbook, sitting at -167 in the two-way market, while Askren is listed at +125 . The betting public and the money is split on this one, with Paul receiving 56% of the handle and 42% of the bets to win, which leaves 44% of the cash and 58% percent of the tickets on Askren.
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