STOCKHOLM - A fight between Jake Paul and Conor McGregor would make "ridiculous" money, former UFC fighter Dan Hardy has told Reuters in the wake of Paul's stunning one-punch knockout of former MMA fighter Tyrone Woodley in Florida last weekend.
Initially dismissed by many in combat sports as a joke, Paul said his KO of Woodley had embarrassed the UFC, but that might not stop them bringing together the social media star and Irish former two-weight UFC champion McGregor to set the tills ringing.
"It would make so much money it would be ridiculous," Hardy told Reuters. "You've got two guys that have got their own audience, and an audience that is massive as well in their own right.
"The only thing for me would be the (physical) size difference, that's the only thing that would affect the sellability of the fight, but then with Conor having such a big personality and him looking like the Hulk at the moment, I think it's definitely something that's sellable," Hardy explained.
The 24-year-old Paul has been very vocal about the relatively poor pay that MMA fighters receive, and though his sixth-round knockout had Woodley crash face first to the canvas, at least the former MMA fighter had the comfort of one of the biggest paydays of his career.
Figures revealed by various state athletic commissions indicate that Woodley's MMA purses during his 27-fight pro career topped out at around half a million dollars, a sum easily eclipsed by his two bouts with Paul.
"From what I understand he's over a couple of million dollars (for the last Paul fight), and that's not including all of the opportunities and gifts and sponsorship that came with it," Hardy said.
"He had people on his shorts that would have been paying him money, he got a Rolex off Jake Paul that cost a pretty penny. There were a lot of different ways for him to monetise that."
McGregor told Reuters that he made a staggering 140 million dollars from his 2017 knockout loss to Mayweather, and having suffered a broken leg in an MMA bout with Dustin Poirier in July, few would blame him if he decided to take a money fight against Paul while he still can.
The only issue for McGregor or any other UFC fighter is getting the organisation's blessing to compete in boxing, and that is not always easy.
"That's because the UFC very much fell like they've got ownership over the value of that person's brand. McGregor is a great example - he probably wouldn't have been the same brand had he not come through the UFC," Hardy said, adding that social media and younger fans are more concerned with personality.
"I think people are more interested in the individuals in the fight than what they are actually fighting for. If Jake Paul fought Conor McGregor, more people would watch that than the UFC heavyweight title."
The 39-year-old Hardy, who lost his only UFC welterweight title fight to Georges St-Pierre in 2010, confirmed that he had been released from his contract by the UFC, but laughed at the notion that he might be next in line to face Paul.
"You know what, if his manager called me and offered me the fight I would take it because it's a big payday and I wouldn't get knocked out like Tyrone Woodley, that's for sure!" he said.
"I don't really have an interest in fighting him, aside from the fact that I could pay off my house." (Reporting by Philip O'Connor Editing by Christian Radnedge)