Daniel Cormier has admitted "the kid is getting better" after watching Jake Paul beat legendary former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva.
The YouTuber-turned-boxer has not often seen eye-to-eye with Cormier, and the pair even had an altercation at an event last year over comments that Paul had made about the ex-two division champion. But he has begrudgingly admitted that Silva's game plan wasn't right for a bout with an improving young fighter like Paul, who moved to 6-0 last month with a big win.
Speaking ahead of UFC 281 in New York where he will be a part of the broadcast team for Israel Adesanya's middleweight title defence against Alex Pereira, Cormier explained that Silva's strategy had been to sit back at times. As such, he lost himself rounds that he shouldn't have and in a razor-close fight, when Paul dropped him in the final round, it cost him the bout.
"I thought he did good," Cormier told Mirror Fighting . "But, I mean, Anderson gave away some rounds in the middle there and people were like 'he wasn't trying'. Well that's his MO [Modus Operandi]. He's one of those guys that at times does kind of sit back and in sitting back he lost some rounds that he probably shouldn't have. I thought he did a great job for himself, fought hard and fought well, but the kid is getting better - I thought Jake did pretty good!"
Paul is now expected to face Tommy Fury in February assuming the Brit beats Paul Bamba as expected on Sunday night in Dubai. Meanwhile, Silva's future plans are unknown after he suffered his first loss since moving back into boxing following the end of his UFC run in 2020.
During a previous discussion on his ESPN show DC & RC, the former heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion declared that Paul has been making clear improvements. He believes that had the YouTuber fought Silva with the same skillset with which he faced Tyron Woodley in December, he likely would have lost.
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“I thought that Jake Paul showed a lot of heart,” Cormier said said last week. “I thought Anderson Silva fought valiantly. You know what sucked? I felt like Anderson did what he is known to do. If he was more active, he would have won, but he just wasn’t. There were a lot spots in the fight where lack of activity cost him.
“He gave away some rounds to Jake Paul early, because he just didn’t do enough. When he put his foot on the gas, you saw that he was the better fighter, Anderson Silva. But he just did not put the gas enough to win the fight, and then he got dropped in the last round.
"You know what I think we learned in that fight about Jake Paul was that he can fight. If he would have fought Anderson last year, Anderson would have beaten him if Anderson fought the way that he did. But the kid’s improving. The one that beat Woodley would have lost to that Anderson Silva Saturday night.”