Randy Couture wishes Sean Strickland could pursue Jake Paul fight but UFC ‘never going to let that happen’


Sean Strickland would love the opportunity to face Jake Paul in the boxing ring, but it seems highly unlikely that will ever happen — at least not while he’s under UFC contract.

The former middleweight champion got into a war of words with Paul recently following a sparring match where he battered a social influencer named Sneako, which caught the attention of the 8-1 boxer. Paul made a $1 million offer to fly Strickland down to his training camp in Puerto Rico for a fight, but that idea was shot down rather quickly.

Strickland claimed he asked the UFC for permission to accept the challenge but that UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell shot him down, and added that Paul “sells no fights.”

UFC legend Randy Couture, who has often butted heads with his former employer, wishes that the promotion would at least entertain the idea about the matchup, but he knows even with potential financial gain on the line, it’s highly unlikely they’d sign off on the deal.

“Probably not,” Couture told MMA Fighting about the UFC allowing Strickland to fight Paul. “It depends. If Sean Strickland took the tactic like Conor McGregor did and brought them in to benefit and make money off this endeavor, maybe there’s a negotiation to be had. I think your assessment is probably accurate, they’re probably never going to let that happen.”

The UFC served as a promoter alongside McGregor back in 2017 when he fought Floyd Mayweather in one of the biggest boxing pay-per-views of all-time. It’s doubtful that Strickland and Paul could pull anywhere near those types of numbers, but it’s still a fight people would pay to see.

As far as the matchup goes, Couture cautions Strickland that despite his vast overall experience advantage in combat sports, Paul has proven to be a capable boxer through the first nine fights of his career.

Now if Strickland was allowed to endure a full training camp where he only focused on boxing rather than MMA, Couture expects that would definitely even up the score.

“I think Jake has shown he has skills, that he can back up the rhetoric and the talk,” Couture said. “Obviously, he’s beaten some very, very good guys. I think Sean Strickland has a very strong striking background. He brings that to every single MMA match. We saw what he did against [Israel] Adesanya and the way he solved the problem there. Give him time to have a good, full camp in boxing, and I think he would do very, very well against Jake Paul.

“It would be a very interesting matchup. Jake’s maybe a little bigger, maybe a little stronger, but I think they’re very similar in size. Whereas Nate Diaz, in my opinion, wasn’t big enough. He didn’t have the ass, frankly, to bring the power to match Jake Paul in the matchup. I kind of thought Anderson Silva would do better against Jake Paul because he’s got a very strong striking background as well.”

Couture commends Paul for backing up everything he says in the ring, which has led to him becoming one of the most talked about names in combat sports, whether anybody likes it or not.

That being said, Couture would love to see Strickland get the chance to land that fight — and earn a hefty seven-figure payday in the process.

“You can’t take away anything from Jake Paul and what he’s doing in the ring,” Couture said. “Strickland has earned his right to be here. I think it would be an interesting matchup and a lot of eyeballs would tune into watching those two get after it.”

Couture also addressed the sparring session between Strickland and the social influencer, which took place in the same gym that bears Couture’s name in Las Vegas.

Paul blasted Strickland for beating up an inexperienced opponent, but also took a shot at the former UFC champion for hammering away with punches but not actually earning a knockdown during the session.

For his part, Couture defended Strickland’s decision to engage in the sparring match and he saw nothing wrong with the way everything unfolded.

“This kid that [Strickland] beat up, I don’t even know who this kid was but he talks a lot of smack and that’s something Jake is familiar with,” Couture said. “I thought that was a justified beating in the boxing ring. He wasn’t teeing off on him, and Jake’s criticism was, ‘You couldn’t even knock down a guy that isn’t a fighter.’ I don’t think Strickland was trying to knock him down.

“If he wanted to knock him out or knock him down, I think he would have. I think he was teaching him a lesson and dragging it out as long as he needed to, to get the point across. That’s how I saw that whole thing.”


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