MOSCOW, December 22 (R-Sport) – Boxing star Roy Jones Jr. has said is planning to bring the Ultimate Fighting Championship to Russia for the first time as he plans a high-profile crossover bout with mixed martial arts legend Anderson Silva.
Jones and Silva have been calling each other out for years, but the plans were given a boost this month when UFC president Dana White appeared to give them his blessing.
After outpointing obscure French-Algerian fighter Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf in a boxing match in Moscow on Saturday, Jones said he wanted to bring the UFC to Russia for the first time when he debuts in MMA.
“I really love Russia,” Jones said. “It all depends where the best offer comes from, but next year I’m supposed to be fighting Anderson Silva, and I really hope to have that fight in Russia.”
Jones’ Russian promoter, Vlad Hrunov, said he has already had offers for the television rights for a Jones-Silva fight and would fly to Las Vegas on Monday for talks with White.
“I’ve got the desire to bring White’s show, the UFC, to Russia,” he said, but suggested that there had been “a certain amount of skepticism” from television companies as to whether the Jones-Silva bout would actually take place.
Jones, 44, had not fought in 18 months before beating Benmakhlouf and has not fought for a major world boxing title in nine years. Brazilian Silva, 38, will be in action next week against when he challenges Chris Weidman for the UFC middleweight title.
Boxers have a poor record when crossing over into MMA, with the highest-profile being former world champion James Toney, who was defeated by Randy Couture with a first-round submission in his sole venture into the octagon in 2010.
The UFC is planning a European tour next year, with events Britain, Poland, Sweden, Germany, Ireland and Turkey all reportedly being planned. The UFC has held European events in Britain, Sweden and Germany before, and a move into Russia would bring it onto the territory of numerous local promotions.