Ignore Dana White: The Right Opponent is Keeping Jones Out of the Octagon

D MillerCorrespondent IMay 9, 2009

NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 08:  Roy Jones Jr looks on during the Ring Magazine Light Heavyweight Championship bout against Joe Calzaghe of Wales at Madison Square Garden November 8, 2008 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

When it comes to keeping oneself relevant, give credit where credit is due.

While many within the boxing world have written off the drawing power of Roy Jones Jr, he has managed to steal headlines in a sport he has yet to even compete in.

A bold, yet cunning move on the legendary boxer's part, because while he is drawing less interest in a sport that's seen its own popularity decline in recent years, he's got the MMA world abuzz about a potential matchup with a world class MMA fighter--fighting on his turf, no less.

And why shouldn't his attempts to land a high-profile MMA fight spark debate and fuel headlines? The oldest heated debate involving MMA (more so than Judo vs. BJJ or even that of MMA's overall legitimacy) is boxing vs. mixed martial arts.

In the MMA industry's efforts to dispel the common belief among old timers that boxers are superior fighters to their multiple-disciplined counterparts, the challenge has long been on the table: Step in the cage and let's find out.

So why hasn't Dana White hopped on the opportunity to put his prized champion Anderson Silva in the cage with the multiple-time boxing world champion Jones?

If you believe his explanation, it's that Jones lacks relevance; supposedly he's over the hill and a win over him isn't going to make Silva look any better than he already is.

The problem with that logic is that only boxing enthusiasts see Jones as used goods; the average sports fan out there remembers how dominant he was in his prime. That's the exact kind of "tweener" sports fan White is trying to bring over to his side.

What seems more likely is that it's not Jones that White doesn't want in the first-ever boxing vs. MMA superfight, but Silva, and it's not just because his lackluster performances of late.

Come again?

As the old saying goes in MMA, styles make matchups. And while Silva can strike with the best of them, the fact that he is a striker first gives Jones the only honest chance he has to win an MMA fight against world-class competition.

If Jones were to hit the mat with Silva, there isn't enough cash in all the Swiss banks to cover the odds Vegas would have on "The Spider" winning that battle.

Silva is the kind of fighter who likes to challenge himself, and even moreso, wants his opponent to challenge him. He's simply not wired to take the easy way out and dive at Jones' legs at the first chance were they to square off; rather, Silva would be looking to assert his will on the feet, beat Jones at his own game.

And if Silva were to give Jones the one chance he needs to knock him out, the results could be devastating to the UFC and MMA overall.

Because while wrestlers, judokas and kickboxers can step into MMA and wins fights without tarnishing the sport, the stigma of MMA as second fiddle to boxing as the ultimate prize fighting style makes the stakes in the proposed Jones-Silva fight so much higher.

When legendary Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu stylist Marcio "Pe de Pano" Cruz stepped into the octagon to face (at the time) former UFC World champion Frank Mir in February 2006, the comparisons between the two fighters weren't far off from what we would have with Silva and Jones.

In Pe de Pano, you had a very one-sided fighter who was a multiple-time world champion in his particular style, just like Jones; in Mir, you had a fighter who wasn't in the same league as Cruz on the ground, but still quite talented in jiu-jitsu in his own right, but was more of a well-rounded MMA fighter similar to Silva.

Cruz wound up imposing his will on Mir on the ground, and punishing him with punches and elbows until the fight was called.

Of course, the post-fight reaction was that Cruz had adapted well to MMA, not that BJJ had proven its superiority to MMA.

Unfortunately, the idea that boxing is a real enough fight enables its fans to claim their athletes are far superior. Were Jones to somehow defeat Silva in a cage under MMA rules, even the casual fan is going to hop on board with that sort of jaded thinking.

That, and that alone, is what Dana White wants to avoid at all costs.

If you're buying the whole "Roy Jones Jr simply is no longer relevant" argument, let's hop in the DeLorean and take a trip down memory lane, to 2007 when another boxing "Jr.," Floyd Mayweather, was promoting his bout with Oscar De La Hoya.

Seemingly at random, "Pretty Boy" Floyd was calling out MMA fighters (even Chuck Liddell), saying they weren't in the same league as boxers and not true fighters.

The UFC, and Dana White in particular, were quick to respond and offer Mayweather the chance to put his money where is mouth is.

Then-UFC Lightweight Champion Sean Sherk made it clear that he would gladly take on boxing's pound-for-pound champ under MMA rules.

White even went so far as to offer Mayweather seven figures to fight Sherk during an appearance on the "Bubba the Love Sponge" radio show.

Mayweather of course wisely never accepted, and even backed off his criticisms of MMA fighters following his defeat of De La Hoya.

But why would White have been so eager to match up one of his champions with a boxer (who was still in his prime) just two years ago and want nothing to do with Jones' quest to test the MMA waters?

Because he knows that Sherk would have done the job right, by swiftly bringing Mayweather to the mat and pummeling his claim as the world's best fighter right out of him.

And given that Anderson Silva can't even seem to perform to the best of his capabilities and finish fights like he should right now, Dana White is not about to let the UFC and all of MMA's public reputation ride on the likelihood that Silva wants to beat Jones at his own game.