After knocking out Corey Anderson in spectacular fashion at UFC Fight Night: "London" earlier this month, Jimi Manuwa took to the mic to call out former boxing heavyweight champion David Haye. I know, another UFC fighter calling out a boxer? There sure are a lot of guys hoping to follow Conor McGregor into the breach of inter-sports prize fighting, but it all seems like a waste of time with the UFC standing in the way.
But maybe the promotion’s new ownership isn't as against MMA versus boxing bouts as the company was back in the Fertitta era. In a recent fan Q&A (via BoxingNewsOnline), Haye not only enthusiastically accepted Manuwa's challenge but claimed he'd been contacted by the UFC about it.
"The answer is a resounding yes!" he said. "I was very impressed with his quick knock out the other night at the O2 Arena. If any of the mixed martial artists can convert over to be a successful boxer he has definitely got the body shape and style to do so."
“Yeah we have heard from Manuwa’s management and UFC so it is something that we are looking at at the moment. Obviously it is a little way off being confirmed. But it is a fight that would unify a lot of the fans from both UFC and boxing and make a mega event.”
In the past, boxers and MMA fighters may have voiced the desire to face off, but nothing ever came of it due to the UFC's unwillingness to let their stars fight outside of the Octagon. The best example of the promotion pumping the brakes hard on a boxing versus MMA bout is Anderson Silva versus Roy Jones Jr., which Silva and Jones pushed for seriously multiple times over the past 5 years. But each time the UFC would refuse to let Silva do it, rightfully fearing the repercussions of having their #1 pound for pound great embarassed by a boxer on the downswing of his career.
But if what David Haye is saying is true, maybe the UFC has changed it's tune regarding outside-the-box fights. Roy Jones Jr. recently made similar claims about the UFC finally being willing to discuss the Anderson Silva fight. It still doesn't sound like a great idea to me, but I'd be lying if I said I wouldn't buy the pay-per-view.