Last year, the top mixed martial artist the world over, Anderson Silva, put the word out that he’d like to test his boxing skill against Roy Jones. Jones was trying to secure a deal to fight Joe Calzaghe, so a Silva vs. Jones MMA vs. boxing crossover clash wasn’t at the top of the future Hall of Famer’s To Do list.
After the November Calzaghe fight, which didn’t go swimmingly for Jones (53-5; he lost a UD to the Welshman), he pondered quitting, but instead decided to soldier on. He’s been interested in a rematch with 49-5 Bernard Hopkins (Jones UD12 win over Hopkins in 1993), but the Jones of 2009 doesn’t jazz Hopkins all that much, as the 44-year-old part-time pugilist only wants to take on meaty challenges, for massive paydays.
Last week, the 40-year-old Jones told his manager McGee Wright that he’d be willing to meet Silva, a 34-year-old Brazilian who can finish foes off in a 101 different ways, in the cage, fighting UFC rules. So Wright reached out to Silva’s manager, Ed Soares. Soares was totally jazzed with the idea; he realized that a Silva/Jones match would draw interest and money, and presumably he knew that even if Jones trained MMA for two years, he would have a hard time with the jiu-jitsu/Muay Thai master Silva.
So Soares reached out to UFC president Dana White. Silva has four fights left on a UFC deal, and White would need to embrace the crossover clash. White told Soares he’d get in contact with Jones people; the ball was firmly in his court.
As of today, the ball stays in White’s court. He told me that Silva will not fight Jones, in any ring or cage or on Mars, as long as Silva is with the UFC.
“We don’t put on freak shows,” White told me. “You don’t have to be educated in MMA to know that Silva vs. Jones would be very one sided.”
Wright, when told off White’s concrete stance, was disappointed. But he holds out hope that perhaps Silva can convince White to change his mind. “I can’t blame Dana, he has done really well with his business,” Wright said.
Jones will probably take on Jeff Lacy in July, as of today. Silva is booked to fight Forrest Griffin in August, so all parties are staying busy. But most would agree that if nothing else, there would be a good bit of interest in a clash between RJJ, who ruled the sweet science in the 90s and early 2000s, and Silva, who has been dismissing challengers without drama recently.
“Roy would want a few months of training,” Wright told me. “I figured Dana would agree to the fight, and then, would we reach terms, that might be another story. I would’ve thought Dana would’ve been happy to do it.”
Soares thinks Jones still has athletic feats to unleash, and would like to see the crossover contest. “Roy’s still a great fighter,” he said. “He’s not quick as he was at one point, but I think he knows his body. He might beat Silva in boxing, Anderson might kill him in MMA, but a fight is a fight. Anything can happen. If a punch lands with four ounce gloves, it could do something. But we are concentrating on Forrest Griffin at UFC 101.”
The point is likely moot, at least for now. But once Silva’s deal gets closer to the end, might he use increased leverage to force White’s hand, and make the crossover happen? It’s not out of the realm of possibility, for sure. To this point, though, White has resisted the temptation to bring aboard fighters who could draw money (Kimbo Slice, exhibit A) but might not cast mixed martial arts in the most favorable light.
Soares has a suggestion that might put the tussle a step closer to reality. “How about a kickboxing match?” Soares said. “That might make it more fair.”
What about it, Dana? Is the window open, even a sliver?
“I don’t think so,” White said. “We saw this fight, Art Jimmerson against Royce Gracie at UFC 1 in 1993.” For the record, fight fans, Gracie choked out Jimmerson, wearing one boxing glove, as the pugilist didn’t throw a single blow in anger, or even slight dismay. With Gracie atop him, he grew frustrated, and quit.
“If you look at the UFC matchmaking, it’s the best fighting the best, everyone gets thrown to the wolves,” White said. “Silva vs. Jones is not what we do.”