News & Events, Sports

Jake Paul: YouTube prankster, Antivaxxer, and… Labor Activist?

The influencer promises to retire from boxing if UFC grants fighters more labor rights.

words by: Jacob Seferian
Jan 6, 2022

The younger half of the Paul brothers—who’ve been terrorizing the public on every social media platform since 2013—is attempting one of the more surprising redemption arcs of 2022.


On January 1st, the influencer and erstwhile boxer tweeted a promise to retire from the ring permanently if Dana White, the president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), raised fighters’ pay and granted them long-term healthcare.



The end of the Notes app screenshot reads, “To all UFC fighters-take a stand and create value for yourselves and your peers. You deserve higher pay, you deserve long term healthcare and above all you deserve freedom. Support each other. I am not your enemy, I am your advocate.”


It’s a jarring Norma Rae cosplay for a 24-year-old best known for playing destructive pranks and getting accused of sexual assault. Naturally, things only got weirder from there.


Dana White posted a response video, which opens with him denying that he’s ever used cocaine (something Paul has apparently publicly accused him of in the past). He then alleges that Paul’s current boxing manager, named “Warlock,” was a former accountant of his. As if to imply this beef is personal, as opposed to political.



And as if we hadn’t lost the plot enough, he then proceeds to accuse Paul of taking steroids. White (who, admittedly looks like he does a lot of cocaine), responds to Paul’s reasonable demands. To grant UFC fighters more competitive pay and healthcare coverage to treat extended injuries from their athletic careers, he gives the intellectual mic drop: “I’d like to see you do better!”


After a year where workers’ rights and healthcare have been at the center of cultural debate, it’s weird as f*ck to hear the talking points coming from Jake Paul. Even more bizarre, he’s right.


UFC fighters, like the rest of American workers, suffer a massive pay gap. With some fighters making as little as $10K per fight, others can rake in as much as $500K. All workers deserve fair compensation and a medical care plan which corresponds to the risks of their profession—even if that profession is smashing in people’s heads.


Paul’s call has earned support from the professional fighting community, including Featherweight champ Amanda Serrano, who upped the ante by also promising a one-fight deal with UFC if they agree to Paul’s terms.



White has until today to accept Paul’s offer, and until March 31st to implement the proposed terms. One can’t help but wonder: What other social issues Comrade Jake Paul might be able to fix with the promise of appearing less?


In other news, Elon Musk has named TIME’s 2021 Person of the Year.


Photo via Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images