Jake Paul canceled his Aug. 6 fight against Hasim Rahman Jr. after saying Rahman Jr. didn’t reach the agreed-upon weight for the matchup at Madison Square Garden. UFC President Dana White isn’t so sure.
In response to the news that Paul vs. Rahman Jr. had been scrapped, White implied that lack of interest in the event was a much bigger problem than anything involving the fighters.
“I think they sold less than a million dollars in tickets and it’s $500,000 to turn on the fucking lights at MSG,” White said at the UFC 277 post-fight press conference. “That’s what I think.
“Not to mention hotel rooms in New York and transportation and everything else is very expensive.”
Paul led the map against Rahman Jr after his original opponent Tommy Fury failed to get clearance to travel to the United States. The fight involving former heavyweight champion Hasim Rahman’s son was scrapped after Paul’s team said Rahman Jr. could not come down to 205lbs – after the matchup was originally set to take place at 200lbs. When Rahman Jr. allegedly asked for a 215-pound catch weight concession, the fight was called off.
As much as White believes lackluster ticket sales played a role in the event’s cancellation, he still wished no ill will on Paul or Rahman Jr.
“I’m not going to sit up here and be happy or rejoicing that their fight failed,” White said. “I’m sure these two guys put in a lot of hard work and a lot of training to prepare for this fight and spent money to prepare for this fight.”
While the UFC president rarely has a friendly word where Paul is involved, he didn’t take a direct shot at him on Saturday. Instead, he criticized Paul’s choice of business partners.
“I’ll say this, just because you were an accountant here doesn’t mean you know what the hell is going on here,” White said, referring to Paul’s business partner Nakisa Bidarian, who previously served as the chief financial officer at the UFC was active . “That doesn’t mean you can run a combat promotion company.”
Paul counts Bidarian as a consultant and business partner among the co-owners of Most Valuable Promotions, the company that also manages women’s boxing champion Amanda Serrano, who was previously scheduled to compete on the same card on August 6.
After what transpired with the fight against Rahman Jr. and the cancellation of the entire event, White Paul offered some point-blank advice on his fight career.
“I think Jake Paul probably needs to have some other people around,” White said. “If he wants to stay in the sport, he needs to be around people who really know how to fight.”