Daniel Cormier, the former heavyweight champion of the world and the commentator for UFC 261, said that as soon as Jake Paul arrived at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena, he began hearing the “F*ck Jake Paul” chant.
Yahoo Sports reports that Cormier looked behind him at the YouTube-star-turned-professional boxer and was taken aback by what he saw and asked producers for a two-minute break.
“He’s, like, making faces at me and waving at me,” Cormier said Monday on his DC & Helwani ESPN show, per Yahoo Sports. “I’m like, what in the world is happening? What is happening? … This 24-year-old kid is heckling me. He’s heckling me. He’s like a troll but, like, a famous troll.”
Cormier said he knew right away that he couldn’t let Paul’s behavior go unchallenged.
“I wanted to grab his face. I was gonna grab him by the face, but I would’ve got in trouble by the UFC,” Cormier said. “Because listen, a kid like that, you alpha a kid like that. … I wanted to grab him by the face, smash him into the ground, but I can’t do that at work. That would get me into a lot of trouble.”
Cormier said he walked over to talk to Paul as if the two were going to have a conversation.
“I said, ‘Hey, I’m not gonna play your games,” he said. “I go, ‘Don’t mess with me. I’m not a kid to play with like this. I’m not gonna be on the internet messing around and all this other stuff.’ I go, ‘Keep my name out of your mouth.’ Once the security and everybody got around, he started to play big boy a little bit, starts trying to point and do all that. But initially, his hands are in his pocket and he kind of leans in.
“My name will not be used as a springboard. I love my legacy, and I will protect my legacy,” Comier said. “And if protecting my legacy means I have to smack this kid upside his head, then that’s what I’ll do.”