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Premier Boxing Champions headliner Andre Berto: MMA crossover 'ain't off the table'

Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

Andre Berto will always be a boxer. But, in many ways, he was an MMA practitioner first.

Berto's father Dieuseul fought at UFC 10. His brother, Edson, is a Bellator veteran. And his sister, Revelina, was a would-be cast member on The Ultimate Fighter 17.

MMA is in the Berto blood. And Andre, who trains in all disciplines, has always considered taking an MMA fight or two.

"You know what?" he told MMAFighting.com in a recent interview. "I've been tempted."

Now might be the best time. After his next huge fight, that is.

Berto, the former WBC welterweight champion, will headline the first Premier Boxing Champions (PBC) card on Spike TV against Josesito Lopez on March 13 in Ontario, Calif. There is serious cohesion there with Spike also running Bellator MMA and GLORY kickboxing as part of its Friday night combat sports lineup.

"It ain't off the table," Berto said of him in MMA. "I've been doing it for awhile."

Berto said he smiled when he first heard that Al Haymon's PBC struck a deal with Spike and he'd be in the first main event. He's hoping some of those Bellator fans come over and check him out.

"I was like, that sh*t is perfect," Berto said. "You got Spike TV, everybody in the MMA world is on there. I'd say tune into it. It'll be an easy transition."

Berto, who is 29-3 as a pro boxer, is still only 31 years old. He has a solid future in boxing, which will resume against Lopez, a fighter also known for his exciting style. Berto has 22 knockouts in 29 victories. And he's hoping to show off that flash in front of a massive television audience.

"I want to put on a tremendous fight, for the network, for the new viewers, for myself in general," Berto said. "I want to come out of the gate with a bang so they know someone that can fight his ass off, that can speak, that can look good while he's doing it. And just make the show exciting.

"We're in a position right now where a million people can mistakenly watch us fight. Just imagine if it's promoted the right way, marketed the right way. With us performing, we're giving these people a show. Just imagine what can come of it."

Berto, a Florida native, likes the entertainment aspect of combat sports. He has developed a friendship with UFC star Conor McGregor, basically by accident. The two were rehabbing together at the same facility in late 2013 in Los Angeles -- McGregor's knee and Berto's shoulder -- and struck up a kinship.

"I didn't know who he was at the time," Berto said. "He was just a funny Irish dude. Every day we just came in there and had crazy ass stories. We would sit there and laugh.

"I didn't realize the magnitude of how big of a star, how good he was. Because I never saw him fight. I knew he had the charisma just by being with him. Now, everything just came together and he took off. Another level, man. I love talking to him."

McGregor will fight Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight title in the main event of UFC 189 on July 11. The pair have remained friends and saw each other in Las Vegas recently. Berto stays up to date with MMA, because of his family. As far as competing in the sport, Berto said he has spoken to UFC president Dana White about it. And, well, Bellator president Scott Coker is always down for multiple-sport athletes -- he recently brought Joe Schilling over from GLORY.

"I don't know," Berto said with a smile. "We'll see."

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