CBS Sports reported today that Roy Jones Jr. has agreed to fight Anderson Silva -- not in the boxing match that had been expected between the two of them since this whole rumor started flying long ago, but under MMA rules, hopefully in the Octagon.
Sadly -- or not, depending on your view -- UFC president Dana White passed on the idea with this quote:
"You won't see a Silva versus Jones fight while Silva is under contract with me," White said Tuesday. "I don't want to say anything bad about Roy Jones, I like Roy Jones and was a fan of his, but he mattered like fifteen years ago. He's not anywhere near the best boxer in the world. He must've spent all his money."
The part about Jones mattering "like fifteen years ago" is way off, obviously, considering Jones was the best in the sport six years ago. And considering Roy has never been reported to have lived some absurdly lavish lifestyle and is running a promotional company which (while it is no Golden Boy or Top Rank) has started moderately well thus far, I don't think there's a real money problem there. Of course he'd like to fight Silva; there's big money in it. Wanting to make a lot of money doesn't make one broke.
In short -- and as much as I respect White's decision -- this is another Dana White quote where he goes, "I don't want to say anything bad, but here's a few insults. But only a few!"
The whole story is filled with delusion and just plain absurd ideas:
Jones' manager, McGee Wright, approached Jones a few weeks ago, and asked him if he'd consider fighting Silva on his turf, in an Octagon.
Jones agreed, McGee told CBSSports.com. So a pumped-up McGee reached out to Silva's manager, Soares, and Soares was excited as well.
"He said Silva would do it, fight Roy in an MMA fight," Wright said.
Soares then contacted White, and from there, Wright says, the plan for a boxing/MMA crossover megafight was derailed. Late last week, Wright says, he and Soares touched base and Soares reported that White wasn't keen on a Silva vs. Jones MMA tussle.
Wright is slightly perplexed. "I would've though Dana would've been happy to do it, after last year he said he wanted Sean Sherk to fight Floyd Mayweather," Wright said. "The pay per view of Jones against Silva would be in line with the results from the [May 2008] De La Hoya/Floyd Mayweather fight," he says of the showdown which broke buys and revenue records.
The idea that 40-year old Jones, who can't sell a fight anymore because everyone knows how gigantic of a shadow he is of his former self, is going to help Anderson Silva do 2.4 million-plus buys is laughable. It is utterly laughable -- except for the fact that they're serious, I think.
To be clear: Silva-Jones, no matter how intriguing (and it ain't that intriguing to begin with), has no chance of breaking the Oscar-Floyd number, even if the UFC machine was backing it. It would probably do very, very well, but 2.4 million? Get serious.
MMAJunkie.com now is reporting that Jones would be shut out of Strikeforce, too:
"It has nothing to do with money," [Showtime Senior Vice President Ken] Hershman said. "I think it's an insult to the integrity of mixed martial arts to think Roy Jones, or any professional boxer, could just come in and fight Nick Diaz in a mixed martial arts context. In a boxing context, it's completely different.
"But beyond that, it's not the strategy we're employing. We're looking to build the best mixed martial arts brand. I believe we have the best professional boxing brand on television, and I think our fights month in and month out prove that. I don't see the need to combine the two at the moment."
I respect the stances White and Hershman are taking. In fact, I think it's the exact right thing to do.
And I don't want to say anything bad about Roy Jones, I was a Roy Jones fan, but...
Roy Jones isn't doing this for money. He doesn't want to fight Silva or Nick Diaz for the money. He's doing it because Roy Jones can't let the spotlight go. This is why he put on the atrocity that was March Badness. By leeching off of MMA, he could get a few people to buy a crappy fight with Omar Sheika. By fighting IN MMA, he can get people to pay attention to him even though that bout was awful and the show was no better.
Jones still wants to be the star he was. He lives it and breathes it. It's what drives him. He's not content to go, "I had a hell of a career, I'm a lock Hall of Famer, I'll be remembered for decades, but it's time to give it up." Everyone else can see it. Roy's looking for more magic.
But it's not worth it, at least not for MMA. What does Dana White really do for his sport with such a gimmicky fight? I'm with Bloody Elbow's Michael Rome:
"If this sport is to become a permanent mainstream sport, the freak show route won’t get it done. Doing those fights will push the sport right into the mainstream for a couple of years, but send it crashing back to where it was in the late 90’s once interest fades. By promoting just the sport, the UFC is doing phenomenally even in an economy where everyone else is suffering."
As the boxing game flies past him and none of his fights are attractive for the major buyers anymore, he's looking for new avenues. The disastrous flop that was Calzaghe-Jones has put his star out to pasture in boxing. With MMA, he could get at least one big fight. And what if he landed that punch? Pulled the upset? Shocked the MMA world? Then it's another big fight.
Roy Jones was a superstar, the biggest in boxing. And he'll go to any length to get back some fraction of that time.