After 15 years of covering mixed martial arts and other combat sports, I have to admit it: I don’t really understand Tyron Woodley vs. Jake Paul either.
In the wild world of sanctioned fist-fighting, I understand “fun fights.” I get the need for dudes to occasionally bang it out simply for bragging rights. Hell, I’m even all for cash-grabs in a sport that often leaves its pugilists broke and broken in retirement.
But what do we make of a boxing match between Woodley and Paul – a former UFC champion/part-time actor and a social-media personality/bafflingly unique pro boxer?
Better yet, how do we bet on it?
The colorful road to Tyron Woodley vs. Jake Paul
On Sunday night at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Woodley and Paul headline a pay-per-view boxing event ($59.99).
These aren’t your typical boxing PPV headliners. Then again, we’re officially in the Stupid Era™ of combat sports.
Sure, bloodsport has a long and colorful history of cross-discipline, even cross-sport matchups (pro wrestling is a sport, right?). Before “mixed martial arts” became a household word in the early 2000s, promoters and literal carnival barkers had been blending fighting and fighting styles in front of curious audiences for a hundred-plus years.
In the past half-decade, though, these sideshows have become the main attractions. And everyone – boxers (Floyd Mayweather), MMA fighters (Conor McGregor and Ben Askren), NBA vets (Lamar Odom), social media peeps, aspiring rappers, and others – is getting in on Big Money Boxing.
And even if combat sports fans pretend to hate it, PPV buy rates and ticket sales suggest otherwise. Hence the interest in Woodley, a former UFC welterweight champion and Big 12 wrestling champ, and Paul, the Youtuber with a promising 3-0 boxing record that includes a victory over Woodley’s friend and fellow MMA vet, Askren.
As my esteemed colleague Chuck Mindenhall put it:
“It’s a boxing match between a non-boxer and Boxing’s Great Intruder. These are people known for other things who’re lacing up the gloves knowing full well it speaks to our deepest tabloid sensibilities.”
Betting on Woodley vs. Paul
Yes, you can bet on Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley.
But no, there’s no real consensus among the sharps.
At those odds, a winning $100 bet would result in net profits of:
- Jake Paul (-200): $50
- Tyron Woodley (+160): +160
- Tie (+2000): $2,000
Woodley opened at sportsbooks across the globe in the +110 to +120 range. However, early betting has favored Paul and made Woodley an even bigger underdog as fight night approaches.
The total for the eight-round fight was four rounds, with under 4 rounds at -135 and over 4 rounds at +100.
If you bet on the fight to go the distance, it has a 4-1 (+400) payoff. Paul to win via decision is +900, and for Woodley, it’s +1200.
BetMGM also has round-specific and other prop bets available for Sunday.
Also on the Woodley-Paul undercard card:
- Featherweight title fight: Champ Amanda Serrano (-2500) vs. Yamileth Mercado (+900)
- Heavyweight: Daniel Dubois (-3000) vs. Juiseppe Cusumano (+1000)
- Welterweight: Ivan Barancyhk (-225) vs. Montana Love (+160)
- Cruiserweight: Tommy Fury (-2000) vs. Anthony Taylor (+800)
- Super welterweight: Charles Conwell (-3000) vs. Lucas Brian Ariel Bastida (+900)
Nothing to lose for Tyron Woodley?
Woodley is a former University of Missouri wrestler and two-time All-American who then transitioned to MMA. He ultimately won the UFC welterweight title in 2016 and defended it four times. That’s no small feat on MMA’s biggest stage. However, he fought out his UFC contract on the heels of a four-fight skid, and he split with the company earlier this year.
Woodley has dabbled in music with some solid TV and film roles. But his fight with Paul could provide him his biggest career payday yet.
And that’s why Woodley really has nothing to lose here. He’s reached the highest levels of MMA. He’s found out-of-the-cage opportunities with some commendable results. But by fighting a YouTube star on a Sunday night in northern Ohio, Woodley will likely score the biggest fight purse of his career.
And don’t think Paul doesn’t know that. He’s trolled UFC President Dana White and the entire MMA industry over its notoriously stingy fighter pay.
Sure, there’s some bad blood here. Paul (violently) knocked out Woodley’s longtime pal, Askren, earlier this year, and “T-Wood” wants some revenge. The Paul camp also made the grave mistake of starting a brouhaha with Mama Woodley at a pre-fight press conference this week.
But really, win or lose, Woodley and Paul are getting paid. Woodley could score some bragging rights for the MMA crowd, and Paul could add another notable name to his boxing ledger.
But more than anything, fight fans get another fun sideshow. And in a fight that really makes no sense in the big picture, the Stupid Era™ gets another night to shine.