COMMENTARY | An Anderson Silva vs. Roy Jones, Jr., superfight in 2014?
A proposed Silva-Jones bout has long been nothing more than babble, especially since boxing's former pound-for-pound king has flirted with the idea of boxing against MMA stars such as Nick Diaz and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson but those fights also never materialized. Seems like every time you turned around some MMA fighter wanted to fight Roy Jones - no one more than Silva, who has incessantly nagged Dana White about the dream matchup for years. The UFC president never gave his blessing, fearing such a fight could be perceived as a money-grabbing spectacle and perhaps long-term hurt the UFC's precious image as a sport.
"I'm in this position where I feel like Roy wants to fight (Silva) and (Silva) wants to fight Roy. I feel like I'm in this position to try and make both of these guys happy, but it drives me crazy," White said during an interview on Fox Sports Live. "I would love for Roy Jones Junior to focus on his next opponent, and Anderson focus on his, and we'll talk about all this stuff. I know Roy's coming to the fight … we'll see what happens."
"I want to be ready for Anderson Silva in case he beats (Chris) Weidman," Jones, who last fought roughly 18 months ago, told ESPN.com's Dan Rafael to explain the motivation behind him fighting in Moscow on Dec. 21. "Silva has made it clear that if he wins he wants me next; I'm here for him. That's a fight that intrigues a lot of people. But I can't fight Anderson Silva coming off such a long lay-off so I needed to get a fight first. If it wasn't for Anderson Silva calling me out I wouldn't be fighting this fight."
What fight fan wouldn't want to see it?
If both fighters win, I predict the mega-match will be booked, and I believe it will offer a surprising twist. While media consensus seems to be that Silva and Jones would meet in a boxing match, I am going against the grain on that one; I predict that Roy Jones will make his MMA debut against Silva inside the octagon (a plausible possibility that Yahoo Sports' Kevin Iole first reported earlier this year after receiving a text from Roy Jones himself stating precisely that). Though Jones is well past his prime, 4-4 in his past eight fights and brutally knocked out several times in his career, it's safe to estimate that the novelty of one of boxing's biggest legends versus a UFC legend would generate north of 1 million pay-per-views and produce the most handsome payday of Anderson Silva's illustrious 15-year fight career.
But an MMA battle between the two gets a little more interesting because Jones will always have the proverbial puncher's chance and we've never really seen Anderson Silva have to resort to wrestling takedowns to win a fight (and you have to think the Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt would need to rely on wrestling to win this fight). We've never witnessed a more dangerous and devastating puncher inside the octagon than Roy Jones (even though he turns 45 years old in January. Trust me, he'd smoke anyone in the UFC in a straight-up boxing match). And we get to see Roy Jones step into a cage for the first time in his career. We get to see if the one-dimensional pro boxer gets eaten alive while out of his element, as most expect.Watching this kind of fight never gets old. Some people call it a spectacle but it's part of the UFC's origins and style-versus-style is something that continues to capture the imagination of millions of people. I miss it, to be honest.
Exactly - never.
Exactly - never.
Do you really think the UFC -- a company purchased for $2 million and now astoundingly estimated at north of $2 billion -- do you really think such savvy businesspeople are going to bypass such a golden opportunity to promote their own sport and instead promote a boxing match? When have they ever altered their contracts to let a top UFC fighter go fight a pro boxer inside a ring? When?
And we know former UFC fighter Rampage Jackson, now fighting under the banner of UFC competitor Bellator, is lobbying hard to box Roy Jones. Maybe it would happen, maybe not. But if you were Dana White wouldn't you want to beat Bellator to the punch and reach a deal with Roy Jones first? You bet. You'd want to slam the door on your competitor and win all the glory and profits for yourself.
Now, while UFC officials may privately fear looking like a spectacle for booking a relatively one-dimensional fighter to compete in a mixed martial arts bout, there is of course plenty of precedent for the organization doing just that (and UFC shouldn't be ashamed of that fact, either). We saw UFC eagerly and unapologetically ride the Brock Lesnar train - welcoming with open arms an inexperienced fighter/ NCAA champion wrestler/WWE wrestling star who boasted a splendid combination of a big mouth, cartoon character physique and mainstream recognition. Lesnar, you might recall, fought for the UFC title with only a 2-1 professional MMA record. He'd been fighting pro for less than 18 months. We're not likely to ever see that again, if Lesnar fighting for the belt at 2-1 wasn't an embarrassment then I can't imagine how bringing in Roy Jones and his 40 knockouts and world titles in multiple weight classes would be.
And we've seen Kimbo Slice fight inside the octagon. The UFC risked the "spectacle" accusation by bringing aboard the YouTube street-fighting sensation, but the organization survived that just fine, too.
If the fight happens it would be huge for the UFC: Put Silva-Jones in the main event, do great pay-per-view numbers, gain even more exposure for your brand from the casual mainstream and boxing fans who normally don't watch much UFC. And use the massive attention as an opportunity to promote some of your rising stars fighting on undercard matchups. And do away with the potential hassle of co-promotion - which the UFC has only done once with the now-defunct Pride organization, a co-promotion that blew up in the UFC's face, I might add, when the UFC sent fighters like Chuck Liddell to Pride but the Japanese organization reneged on their promise to do the same.
And if Silva loses, well, it won't be so bad after all. "The Spider" would be 39 years old by the time the fight happens and UFC officials and fans could simply chalk up a loss to Jones as a lucky punch or simply a sign that Silva's best years are behind him. There's not much shame for UFC if they spin it that way, which they easily could.
Frank "Da Tank" Curreri, a world-class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt with over 230 grappling wins in live competition, lives in Las Vegas and has been covering UFC for the past 11 years. He has worked for UFC and as a news journalist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, The Salt Lake Tribune and a FOX news affiliate in Las Vegas.
- Sports & Recreation
- Mixed Martial Arts
- Anderson Silva
- Roy Jones