Tyron Woodley and Jake Paul’s fight has been months in the making.
Woodley, a former UFC welterweight champion, will take on the YouTuber-turned-amateur-boxer in a Showtime Boxing PPV event on Aug. 29 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in Cleveland, Ohio. The fight will last eight rounds in the cruiserweight division.
In an exclusive interview with The Post, Woodley said his beef with Paul began in April, ahead of the internet personality’s win over former MMA fighter Ben Askren.
“Jake and I had a couple words in the back of his fight with Ben Askren and it kind of put us in a situation where everyone wants to see us fight. It’s going down and unfortunately, he’s going to be put down in his hometown,” Woodley said about Paul, a Cleveland native.
“I went back to check [Paul’s] gloves [before fighting Askren] to make sure he wasn’t doing no BS and wrapping it right, and he was like, ‘Are you here for the clout?’ And I’m thinking, ‘I’m the fighter bro, you got into this game for the clout.’ I mean this is a bucket list, a to-do thing that you guys actually decided to take seriously. I just basically told him, ‘I don’t play games, don’t play with me, I ain’t the guy.’”
Woodley added that Paul was with his “bumblebee crew” at the time, and described the entourage as being dressed in yellow with “thigh pads” on, “trying to gain clout” — something Woodley said he’ll never understand.
“I didn’t take the chance to take Ben’s moment away, it was his moment, but even [Paul’s] own guys supporting him were trying to highlight themselves and what they end up doing is getting Jake to fight. So, I’m excited. … I’m going to get the job done.”
On Thursday, Woodley came face-to-face with Paul and his crew at a press conference before Sunday’s fight. Things got heated when a member of Paul’s entourage began talking trash to Woodley’s mother, Deborah.
Both sides had a fiery exchange, which led to pushing and shoving before Woodley, his family and team were removed from the situation. Woodley said Paul’s team involving his mother in trash talk was “unacceptable” and demanded an apology from the Paul team member. Paul said he would not apologize to Woodley on behalf of his camp.
“I feel like he wears his emotions on his shirt,” Woodley said. “You can see when he’s agitated by something and when he’s just saying something that sounds cool and using soundbites about what he hears watching MMA and boxing and combat sports. With me, I’m always comfortable I’m the same temperature. I’ll beat your ass. I call him out and people can relate to that.”
Paul is 3-0 in his short fighting career, with three knockouts in bouts with YouTuber AnEsonGib, former NBA player Nate Robinson and Askren. However, Woodley is a much different opponent than Paul’s previous contenders.
In his decorated UFC career, Woodley, an elite striker, defended his Welterweight Champion title four times — with seven of his 19 career wins by way of knockout.
Ahead of his fight with Paul, Woodley has been training with pay-per-view phenom Floyd Mayweather — who fought Paul’s older brother Logan Paul in a June exhibition bout in Miami. While Logan lasted eight three-minute rounds, Mayweather dominated in nearly every statistical category.
During their training sessions, which Woodley has been documenting on social media, he said Mayweather shared “tactics” with him about how to beat the 24-year-old. Though, Woodley wouldn’t divulge much since “Jake watches everything I do and say in press conferences.”
Woodley said his time training with Mayweather has been nothing short of “amazing.”
“Just being able to train with one of the greats in the boxing industry and having someone who looks at your technique and your style and try to cultivate it and form it to be the perfect style to beat Jake Paul.
“At the end of the day, [Jake] doesn’t know what to expect from me. I know what to expect from him. For me, I believe it’s the element of surprise that’s going to take him out.”
In response to Paul and Co.’s taunts about his age — Woodley turned 39 in April — along with comments that he “doesn’t have any fight left in him,” Woodley said his resume and skill prove that age is just a number.
“Jake has been fighting for five minutes. Why is age a factor? It’s a factor if someone’s faster, stronger or if they are more skilled — he’s none of the above. He can’t change the fact of my experience level, what I’ve done in the game, my mindset, my mentality and just being in there for the minutes, hours and years. He can’t make that up in any training camp.”
Woodley recently became a free agent in April, when his UFC contract expired, to expand his career “under any banner I want,” including boxing, fighting, combat sports and more. He told The Post that his bout with Paul “won’t be a one-and-done deal.”
“Before my last fight, I was already thinking about doing combat sports and fighting for different leagues and being a free agent. Boxing has already been there the whole time, but boxing Jake Paul was a new concept. I don’t just want to fight Jake and that be it. … The maximum goal and reward is a championship, but I’m not going to look too far down the road right now.
“I’m going to go out there and whoop [Jake’s] ass, and prepare myself to take bigger and better fights.”
Woodley said another reason he’s motivated to dominate in his fight with Paul is his four kids: Dylan, Darron, Tyron and Gabby.
“That’s my biggest flex. My kids are cold. They’re phenomenal athletes. They’re straight-A students. They’re killing it. … For me, they’re my driving force. My kids are the main part I fight for, obviously legacy and because I’m competitive. But my kids have never seen me quit. They’ve seen me win, lose, get knocked out, win triumphantly, but they have also seen me get back up, get on the grind and lead by example.”
The Woodley-Paul card pay-per-view (PPV) boxing match on August 29 starts at 8 p.m. ET and will be streamed live via Showtime and Fite.TV.