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Can Jake Paul compete with Nate Diaz in MMA? What now for Amanda Serrano after impressive win?

The Jake Paul vs. Nate Diaz rivalry isn’t over. That much was clear following Paul’s unanimous decision win over Diaz in boxing. It just doesn’t seem likely to continue inside the ring.

Paul, for months, has been calling for an MMA fight with Diaz after this one. He and his partner PFL have offered Diaz $10 million for that bout. Diaz had been non-committal about fighting Paul in the cage, mostly because he views Paul as an amateur when it comes to real fighting and that’s not the kind of opponent he wants after two decades in MMA.

But Diaz’s tune changed after the boxing loss to Paul on Saturday night in Dallas. Diaz told ESPN that he wants a rematch with Paul, and if it can’t happen in boxing, then he is down with it happening in MMA.

Part of the storyline of this fight is Diaz’s belief that Paul wouldn’t be a factor in a “real fight.” He said as much as the ceremonial weigh-ins Friday. Then, Diaz put Paul in a guillotine choke in the 10th round of their boxing match and played to the crowd, kind of showing what would happen if the two fought in MMA.

There would be obstacles in the way of it happening. Paul’s Real Fight Inc. would have to be a co-promoter of the event. Diaz does not seem interesting in signing with PFL, since he just left the UFC last year and still has designs on going back there. Real Fight Inc. president Zach Rosenfield said at the postfight news conference Saturday that the deal would not be for $10 million, implying that Diaz would demand more for that bout.

The Paul vs. Diaz boxing match was a success, there’s no doubt about that. There was a lack buzz for a while, but that changed this week, courtesy of Diaz walking off an interview, some shenanigans at the prefight news conference and the physical faceoff at the ceremonial weigh-ins Friday. American Airlines Center was sold out and the crowd was energetic, mostly for Diaz.

A story has developed between the two men. Diaz feels like he’s the old-school martial artist battling against influencer culture. He believes Paul and other influencers are teaching kids the wrong things. It’s a generational and philosophical gap between the two men. Diaz is 38 years old, grew up poor and has been fighting his entire life. Paul is 26 years old and has been famous on social media for nearly half his life to this point.

Is there a market for an MMA fight? Probably. There are still many fans — especially MMA fans — who want to see Paul get his comeuppance. While many of Paul’s detractors have asked why he’s not fighting “real boxers,” MMA fans are wondering why he keeps inviting MMA fighters into the boxing ring rather than meeting them where they are at their best. Paul has now beaten Diaz, UFC legend Anderson Silva, former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley and former Bellator and ONE Championship welterweight champion Ben Askren in boxing.

Even in Paul’s lone boxing loss to Tommy Fury, he wasn’t beaten up or finished. In fact, Paul had the only knockdown in that decision defeat. There are plenty of MMA fans — or just Paul haters, of which there are many — chomping at the bit to see him get his butt kicked and knocked out or submitted. As for Paul fans, they’re more than happy to go on this next ride with him into a new sport, where he can show off his athleticism and his background as a youth wrestler.

So, all those who didn’t like the first Paul vs. Diaz fight and couldn’t wait for it to be over, well we’ve got some bad news. This isn’t going to go away. — Raimondi


Serrano sets up her future with impressive win

If Saturday night was about giving back for Amanda Serrano, everything going forward must be about one thing — finalizing the rest of her career.

Serrano did exactly what was expected against her old friend, Heather Hardy. Serrano landed punches essentially whenever she wanted against a fighter she perhaps knows better than anyone else in the sport outside her own sister, Cindy.

They went the distance. They got work in. The future? That’s the question.

Alycia Baumgardner sat ringside on TV commentary for the fight. If Serrano is looking for a big fight, there might not be a bigger option for her now than the undisputed junior lightweight champion. A rematch against Katie Taylor would also be attractive, although Taylor is committed to fighting Chantelle Cameron in November.

Who knows what happens after that, especially if Taylor were to lose to Cameron for a second time?

Both Baumgardner and Taylor offer Serrano a chance at history and records, which is all that’s left for her at this point in the sport except making more money. If she were to go up to 130 or 135 pounds and beat Baumgardner or Taylor, she’d become undisputed in a second division, matching what Claressa Shields and Terence Crawford have accomplished.

If she were to fight and beat both, she’d be the first fighter to become undisputed in three weight classes in the four-belt era — something both Crawford and Shields could attempt to accomplish as well.

Serrano talked in the ring about wanting to set up women’s boxing for the next generation — and also for herself post-boxing, where she’s expressed an interest in managing fighters. Either one of those fights would be huge for the sport.

Of course, if Serrano isn’t looking for fights like that anymore and continues to defend her undisputed featherweight title, there will be options because there are always options for a draw like Serrano, especially with her promoter, Jake Paul, helping push the fights.

The decisions now need to be between Serrano, her promoters and her manager, trainer and brother-in-law, Jordan Maldonado. Serrano said as much.

Serrano remains an exciting fighter. She remains one of the biggest draws in the sport and has been chasing history her entire career. How much more she wants to go after — she’s said in the past year she wanted to stay at featherweight and recently signed a contract with the mixed martial arts promotion, the PFL — should dictate the rest of her boxing career. — Rothstein


Hardy gave one last show

Last month, Heather Hardy told me she would cry this week. Not because it was the end — Hardy hasn’t said this is the end — but because Hardy is an emotional person. This week — this fight — gave her so much. A career-high payday. Potentially a last chance at a title.

After the fight, Hardy said she gave “everything” to this fight, this camp. That was clear throughout the 10 rounds, which were the epitome of a Heather Hardy fight: Throw a ton. Take a ton of shots. Don’t give up. Never back down. Go the distance.

If this was it for Hardy — and it’s unclear at this point if it is or not for the 41-year-old — it was a strong way to go out. Against the fighter she’s been linked to for a lot of her career, a fighter she helped in Serrano and who had helped her along the way, too.

Hardy was women’s boxing in an era before women’s boxing was headlining cards at Madison Square Garden and taking a true foothold in the sport. Hardy was selling tickets herself for almost every fight, trying to get paid and do as much as she could to cobble together a successful boxing career.

Which she did and then some. The fighter called “Heat” always lived up to her nickname, and Saturday was a showcase of that. Bloodied, bruised, doesn’t matter. Ref asks if she wants to continue — pssh, do you know who you’re talking to here?

Without Hardy convincing Lou DiBella to take his first real shot on a female fighter by signing her and promoting her throughout his career, who knows how things go for Serrano? Or for other fighters until the Claressa Shields/Katie Taylor professional boom started to come.

So if this is it for Hardy — at least on a massive stage — she should be proud as heck of how she finished it out. — Rothstein


Is Shadasia Green ready for the elite at 168 pounds?

Shadasia Green went the distance for the second time in her career, she didn’t score a knockdown, and at points during her unanimous decision win over Olivia Curry, she didn’t look like the ferocious puncher we’ve seen over the past year.

Yet Green found her rhythm in the middle rounds — she landed an eye-popping 35 power punches in the sixth round alone and 53.9% of her power punches overall — and took over the fight. Much respect to Olivia Curry, because Curry showed she has a real chin, can deliver an interesting, impactful fight and should be in more intriguing matchups down the road at middleweight or super middleweight, two divisions bereft of depth.

The next three obvious opponents for Green would all be massive steps up: former undisputed super middleweight champion Franchon Crews-Dezurn, undisputed super middleweight champion Savannah Marshall and ESPN’s No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter, Claressa Shields.

Green is a good fighter. She has power that can knock out almost any woman in boxing. A fight between Green and Crews-Dezurn would be very intriguing. But a matchup against Marshall or Shields would be a real money fight. Green is the mandatory challenger for Marshall’s belts, and any matchup against Shields would be a draw (although a Shields-Marshall fight is always a possibility, too, which would create a potential dilemma for Green).

Especially against Shields or Marshall, Green would need to show more. Shields is the best technical fighter in women’s boxing and the best fighter out there. Marshall has shown she has legitimate power and has more experience in big fights, and her skill set would be a step up for Green, too.

It’s an exciting time for Green. Against Curry, we learned she could go the distance in a 10-round fight. Now the question would remain whether she can adequately handle the style and talent level of the opponents she might face.

It’s a question for which, at least for now, the answer remains unknown. — Rothstein

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