Thursday, March 4, 2010
Accomplished Boxer James "Lights Out" Toney Signs With UFC
In a somewhat surprising move, UFC President Dana White has signed 41-year-old professional boxer James "Lights Out" Toney (72-6-3-2) to a multi-fight UFC contract. In his heyday, Toney was considered one of the best pure boxers of his generation and held titles in four separate weight classes, but there is very little to indicate that he has the well-roundedness necessary to succeed in mixed martial arts. On top of that, Toney has been caught twice taking steroids in recent years. Of course, the beautiful thing about MMA is that glaring deficiencies in a fighter's game are generally exposed early and often, so we won't have to wait long to see if Toney can compete among the best in the octagon. At least Toney knows he needs qualified help and has enlisted the former coach of "Rampage" Jackson, Juanito Ibarra, to get him up to speed.
All that said, White has really stuck his neck out for Toney with this move and could end up being heavily criticized if the experiment does not work out.
From Dana White via Yahoo Sports:
"To be 100 percent honest with you, all [expletive] aside, I haven’t thought it out. I like James Toney. He’s one of the greatest boxers ever. I have tremendous respect for him. He said he wanted to fight in the UFC and I was interested. Now he’s here and I have to figure out what to do with him. What we won’t do is make a freak show out of it. I’d be the first to scream if someone else did that, so I’m not going to do it. Hey, I don’t want this to be seen as a joke, and it’s not like Herschel Walker or Canseco or any of those guys. James Toney is a fighter. The worst thing anyone can ever say to me is that they were watching one of my fights and they changed the channel. That’s why I’ll never put [expletive] fights on. James is an interesting case. We know how much talent he has as a boxer and he insists he’ll surprise people by how much MMA he knows. I’ve still got some thinking to do ... James came to me and he literally chased me around the country to do it, so I’m giving him the chance. We’ll get it figured out one way or another."
It didn't take long for one of the biggest names in the sport to call Toney out, at least. The following quote is from Randy Couture's twitter account: