Jake Paul beat Tyron Woodley by split decision but enters rematch a 'different fighter'

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  • Tyron Woodley
    Tyron Woodley
    American mixed martial artist

Jake Paul did no gloating during a recent interview. But as he continued to prepare for his boxing rematch against Tyron Woodley Saturday in Tampa, Florida, he acknowledged something else characteristic of himself.

“I’m sort of sitting here smirking because it’s just going to be different," he told USA TODAY Sports. “I’m a different fighter now."

Paul, 24, was good enough to win a split-decision over Woodley, 39, during their first fight, an eight-round bout Aug. in Cleveland. But at one point, Woodley had Paul on the ropes – almost falling through the ropes, in fact – and proved to be the social media star’s toughest challenger yet.

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Jake Paul fights Tyron Woodley in their cruiserweight bout during a Showtime pay-per-view event at Rocket Morgage Fieldhouse on Aug. 29, 2021 in Cleveland.
Jake Paul fights Tyron Woodley in their cruiserweight bout during a Showtime pay-per-view event at Rocket Morgage Fieldhouse on Aug. 29, 2021 in Cleveland.

Having knocked out each of his first three opponents as a pro, Paul survived the fight against Woodley as much as he won it while improving to 4-0.

“Look, I was unhappy with my performance and I think that was a great thing for me because now, moving forward after that, I made so many adjustments," Paul said. “Everything, A to Z. My training, how hard I went, my strength and conditioning, my diet, my sleep, my recovery. Everything. I tried to get better, and it’s really paid off.

“Before I was just going in there knocking everybody out. And Tyron was really tough and I wasn’t able to do that, so that pissed me off, and I’ve been pissed off for greatness ever since."

Paul elaborated this week, saying, "I learned in the first fight that I just have to stay focused and stick to the game plan. It’s boxing and you’re going to get tagged. Now that I’ve been through it, I have a lot more confidence going into this fight. Tyron was the first person who ever landed a punch against me and it was a great learning experience."

Asked how he’ll look different when he enters the ring at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Paul said, “I don’t want to give the game plan away.''

The scheduled eight-round fight at 192-pound catchweight is billed as “Leave No Doubt." Yet, there is doubt heading into the pay-per-view fight available on Showtime and FITE.tv for $59.99.

Can Woodley, who agreed to fight Paul after Tommy Fury withdrew on Dec. 6 as the scheduled opponent, be sufficiently ready for a rematch?

Woodley, who said he was training while filming a movie when he was offered a chance at a rematch, suggests that videotape can provide him an edge.

Before their first fight, Paul had access to plenty of videotape of Woodley, the former UFC champion who had 27 pro mixed martial arts fights. By contrast, Woodley said there was little value in a videotape of Paul’s knockouts of YouTuber AnEsonGib, retired NBA player Nate Robinson and retired MMA fighter Ben Askren.

Now, however, Woodley said he’s been able to glean insight from videotape of his first fight with Paul. As a result, Woodley said, he will throw more punches when Paul swings.

“I feel like there was times where I made him miss but I didn’t make him pay," Woodley said.

But Paul dismissed the idea that studying the tape will help Woodley make all of the necessary corrections.

“Easier said than done, you know?" Paul said. “If you couldn’t figure it out in the 24 minutes we fought, why all of the sudden can you figure it out now and make those changes?

“You should have done it then. That’s what fighting is, making adjustments in real time and that’s what the best fighters do. They adapt, overcome and see what their opponents doing. It’s a chess match.

“Of course, you’re going to look at the tape and like, ‘OK, I know what he’s going to do now.’ That’s ignorant. I’m a different fighter now. He's a different fighter now. You come in there with more respect for each other, with different thoughts, different game plans."

Part of Woodley’s plan is to win a $500,000 bonus he will collect if he knocks out Paul. The bonus was offered as an enticement for Woodley to take the fight on short notice.

“You don’t put a bounty on your own (expletive) head and expect I’m not going to take it," Woodley said. “You can be sure, I’m motivated by money. I’m motivated by greatness and I’m motivated by redemption."

Oh, Woodley indicated he’s motivated by at least one other thing, saying, “The fact that Jake Paul can walk around and say he beat me just boils my skin, blood, everything inside my body."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Jake Paul vs. Tyron Woodley: Paul 'different fighter' for rematch