When former pound-for-pound king Roy Jones Jr. returned after an 18-month layoff to score a near-shutout decision win against unknown Zine Eddine Benmakhlouf on Dec. 21 in Moscow, he said there was a specific reason he took the fight.
Jones wanted to get the rust off to be ready for a fight he hoped would happen in the first part of 2014, a boxing showdown with MMA great Anderson Silva. The two are friendly and have expressed interest in fighting each other for the past few years, and there seemed to be a chance that it could happen.
So Jones went to Russia and got his win while Silva was getting ready for more immediate business -- a rematch with Chris Weidman on Saturday night at UFC 168 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Silva was seeking to regain the UFC middleweight title he lost to Weidman in July by second-round knockout after getting caught with a big left hand while showboating.
But Weidman retained the title when Silva broke his left shinbone in gruesome fashion while attempting to kick Weidman's right leg.
Jones, who turns 45 on Jan. 16, was cageside and said he knew right away that something bad had happened to the 38-year-old MMA legend.
"He was in excruciating pain, and I knew it was something bad," Jones told ESPN.com on Sunday morning. "You don't see Silva just go down like that if it's nothing. I knew something was broken. It was loud. You could hear it. I was in the front row. I knew something was broken."
Silva, who was taken immediately to the hospital for surgery, will be sidelined for an extended period. There's also a chance that, at his age, he might never fight again.
Jones said, however, that despite Silva's loss and injury, he thinks they could still eventually face each other.
"I don't think it's dead," Jones said of the fight. "He can come back after that kind of injury, but if he does, is he going to want to still kick [in MMA]? I wouldn't want to kick anymore after that. So he should come to boxing. Ain't no kicking in boxing, and he won't re-injure the leg. Get better, come to boxing and take one big-time event with Roy Jones. If he won, which I don't think he would, he could continue on. If he lost, which I think he would, he could call it a day. But at least he would have gotten the big fight.
"It would be legend versus legend. It's still a big fight and something people would want to see. People love big names. People get excited about big names, and people would still be excited to see me and Silva."
Jones said he planned to try to visit Silva in the hospital on Sunday to see how he was doing. But Jones also said if Silva retires or is no longer interested in fighting him, he would be interested in instead taking on Nick Diaz, who announced his retirement from MMA after a points loss to Georges St-Pierre in a UFC welterweight title fight in March.
"I'll see what happens with Silva, but I will also see about Nick Diaz," Jones said. "We talked about fighting before."
Jones said he mentioned the prospect of facing Diaz to UFC president Dana White on Saturday night and that White told him he would think about it.