In recent years there has been a trend of popular YouTuber’s looking to prove their toughness by trying their hand at training, sparring and in some instances even competing in MMA, and in this article we’ll look at how they faired in one of the world’s toughest sports.
Paulo Costa vs. Logan Paul
Logan Paul is one of YouTube’s biggest stars with over 20 million subscribers on his channel and has used that fanbase to help carve out a niche for himself as a celebrity boxer too.
In the past Paul has had two high-profile boxing bouts against fellow YouTuber KSI, with the first being an amateur bout, which ended in a majority draw ruling, before he lost the subsequent rematch by a controversial split decision verdict (Paul was deducted two points in the fourth round).
Paul has also signalled his interest in having a fight in the UFC under MMA rules and does actually have a high-school background in wrestling.
With that in mind, Paul recently showed up at the UFC’s Performance Institute in Las Vegas and agreed to spar with one of the promotion’s most feared strikers, Paulo Costa, who is expected to fight for the middleweight title later this year and has a perfect 13-0 record, including 11 finishes by T(KO).
During the resulting sparring session Paul appeared to take a huge right hand from Costa that knocked him out, though on closer inspection there’s a sense that this was more of a publicity stunt and that the Brazilian striker actually connected with his shoulder.
Either way, with more than 3 million views on YouTube in less than 24 hours, the stunt was great publicity for the UFC and Costa in particular, while later in the video Paul had a chance to show off his wrestling as he engaged in a competitive grappling battle with Costa.
Jake Paul vs. AJ Agazarm
Like his brother Logan, Jake Paul is also a legimate YouTube superstar with almost 20 million subscribers, and he too has been eager to test his fighting skills in both the ring and the cage.
In fact earlier this year he defeated fellow YouTuber Anesongib in a boxing match, registering a first round TKO victory after flooring him twice.
Back in 2017, Paul also tried his hand at MMA, though this time it was just a sparring session with AJ Agazarm, who these days is a Bellator fighter with a 3-1 record, but back then had yet to actually fight professionally.
However, Agazarm was already a decorated Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist and given that Paul was 4″ taller and almost 40lbs heavier, he decided not to mess too much with him too much on the feet, and instead looked to take him to the mat instead.
Paul clearly had some boxing experience and appeared to have some basic MMA knowledge too as he sprawled and used takedown defense against the cage, but Agazarm was still able to take him down in the first round and get to full mount, while in the second round he did so again, before tapping him out with an armbar submission.
“He was hitting me in the side of the head…I don’t know if I can see right now!” Paul said afterwards, although Agazarm appeared to have been taking it easy on him as far as ground and pound goes.
Yavi TV vs. Kerim Engizek
Kaan Yavuzyasar is a popular YouTuber in Germany with almost half a million subscribers who decided to see what it was like to fight a mixed martial arts pro.
Yavuzyasar, aka ‘Yavi’ brought in the 6ft, 170lb German MMA fighter Kerim Engizek, who has an impressive record of 15-4, and at the time of writing is on an eight fight winning streak.
The two began with grappling and Yavi was soon being ragdolled around the gym with the greatest of ease by Engizek, who caught him in everything from a kimura to a triangle choke and rear-naked choke.
Another member of Yavi’s crew also got the same treatment, but quickly was forced to sit out on the sidelines after having his shoulder hurt during a slam.
Yavi then went back in for a full sparring session, which turned out even worse for him when he ate a light head kick that left him on his hands and knees with blood leaking out of his nose!
Last year BuzzFeed’s Aria Ithavong decided to try out MMA and he didn’t do it by half-measures, instead dedicating himself to four months of rigorous training and dieting, followed by taking on an officially sanctioned amateur mixed martial arts fight.
Many of his colleagues doubted Ithavong’s chances of doing well due to the fact that he was a “sweet, nice guy” who had never been in a fight in his life.
However, Inthavong was eager to prove his doubters wrong and learn what it really takes to be a fighter, mentally as well as physically.
After completing his preparations, Inthavong was selected to fight Kasen Matsch, an army veteran who had been training MMA for a year and had previously lost his amateur debut by decision.
Despite his inexperience, Inthavong started the fight brightly as he pressed the action with series of punches, but then Matsch opted to clinch up and pressed him to the cage, before sinking in a standing guillotine choke that would render him unconscious.
Tryguys vs. UFC stars
Nearly 7 million people have subscribed to the TryGuys YouTube channel to watch them try out all different kinds of challenges, from the goofy to the downright dangerous.
One episode saw them heading to a UFC Gym to learn how to fight with some of the best in the world, including Chris Weidman, Demetrious Johnson, Anthony Johnson and Jessica Eye.
The four TryGuys were then put through their paces, learning how to punch, kick, wrestle and submit their opponents, before finally having to square off against each other in the cage.
The Janoskians vs. Miesha Tate
The Janoskians hail from Australia and are essentially YouTube’s answer to the Jackass crew, with over 2.5 million followers on the site.
In 2015, all three decided to challenge themselves by each taking a turn to try to grapple against future UFC bantamweight champion Miesha Tate.
Tate, who held a 17-5 record at the time, proved to be way too much for the guys to handle as she dominated them on the mat and racked up a bunch of submission along the way.
Cris Cyborg vs. Aaron Tru
For a time, MMA reporter Aaron Tru became something of a human punching bag as he went to visit with fighters in the gym and sample what it was like to go up against them in sparring.
Among them was Cris ‘Cyborg’ Justino back in 2011, at a time when she was Strikeforce’s featherweight champion and the most feared women in all of MMA.
To be fair, Tru had actually been training in MMA and even undertook an amateur fight in March of that year, which he’d won by decision.
However, in this striking-only sparring session Tru was lucky that Cyborg was taking it easy on him, but even so, a spinning kick to the midsection would still end up dropping him to the canvas, before verbally submitting.
Jesse Enkamp vs. Oliver Enkamp
There was a twist in the tale when YouTuber Jesse Enkamp, aka ‘The Karate Nerd’ decided to test his skills against a professional MMA fighter, as his opponent was none other than his own brother, Oliver, who at the time was competing in the UFC.
Jesse is himself a decorated karate practitioner who has competed for Sweden in major tournaments, so he wasn’t completely out of his element as long as the sparring match between them was on the feet.
However, when Oliver opted to use his MMA skills to take the fight to the ground then things quickly changed and he found himself out of his depth, while his cardio also suffered too.
Since the video was filmed Oliver has left the UFC after two losses in a row, but has since rebounded in the Bellator promotion, where he’s won back-to-back victories, including a first round spinning backfist KO earlier this month.
KSI vs. Michael Bisping
In 2018 Michael Bisping gave KSI a lesson in mixed martial arts at a time when the YouTube star was training to fight other Youtuber’s like Joe Weller and Logan Paul in the boxing ring, but despite that it’s not something that the former UFC middleweight champion is a big fan of.
“He’s a YouTuber, I don’t know much about what he does,” Bisping said on his ‘Believe You Me’ podcast.
“I find it almost insulting to everybody that has dedicated their life to being a fighter. Come up the hard way, been a lifelong boxer or martial artist and then these two come in…They’re almost making a mockery of the sport of boxing and martial arts.
“They’re doing these big press conferences and pretending to be Conor McGregor or Floyd Mayweather, but I’m not into it.”
Nevertheless, Bisping did give KSI props for at least being well conditioned.
“He kept a good pace [in training] so his cardio was in shape – and that was a while ago,” Bisping said of KSI.
Two years later, KSI hasn’t ventured into the world of MMA, but he did defeat Joe Weller in an amateur boxing bout and then fought to a majority draw with Logan Paul, before defeating him in a rematch in his professional boxing debut earlier this year.
Jordan Wilson vs. Carl Booth
late last year The UK’s Jordan Wilson treated his 1 million YouTube subscribers to footage of him training with UK fighter Carl ‘The Bomber’ Booth, who currently holds a 9-3 pro-record and defeated former UFC fighter Haydar Hassan in his last outing.
Booth is also a coach at the UFC Gym in Nottingham, England and so he was happy to take Wilson and his cameraman through their paces with striking, grappling and submission drills, but perhaps wisely the YouTuber steered clear of actually fighting him!