After a drawn out courtship, the UFC finally inked a deal to bring 41-year-old former heavyweight boxing champion James Toney to the MMA sport.
According to FiveOuncesofPain.com, UFC President Dana White confirmed the signing of Toney this week, but when asked when the boxer would make his debut in the octagon, he said he had “no idea.”
Last year, the boxer — nicknamed “Lights Out” — told us that he loved MMA, simply because the sport has given fans the fights they want to see, as opposed to some of the boring bouts seen in boxing in recent years.
However, Toney said MMA fighters could not compete with him.
“They putting on the best shows. That’s why the boxing people get mad because they getting all the fans,” Toney told BallerStatus.com. “They’re giving the fans all the good matches, which should be done in boxing. I watch it, but they can’t mess with me.
“I like Rampage [Jackson]. I like watching … not Brock Lesnar. He’s phony. Fedor Emelianenko, he aight. George St. Pierre,” he added, naming off his favorite fighters.
The signing has sparked a lot of discussion among UFC fans, some questioning whether or not signing Toney is more for hype rather than his actual skills.
White, however, told Yahoo! Sports that the UFC is not headed the “freak show” route with Toney, adding: “Hey, I don’t want this to be seen as a joke, and it’s not like Herschel Walker or [Jose] Canseco or any of those guys. James Toney is a fighter.”
James “Lights Out” Toney has a professional boxing record of 73-6-2 with one no contest, and has held titles in six different weight classes ranging from middleweight to heavyweight. But, he has no MMA fights under his belt.
Toney has reportedly been training in MMA for some time in hopes of making his octagon debut. But, when his debut will come is currently unknown. There’s been speculation surrounding a possible match against Kimbo Slice, but White says an MMA match for Toney hasn’t been mapped out just yet.
“We threw the kitchen sink at Brock when he came in,” White said. “Are we going to do that same thing with James? I don’t know. 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,” he continued. “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.”
With the signing, Toney becomes the most decorated boxer ever to fight in the UFC. His boxing skills are above anyone in the UFC, and probably boasts the best chin. Whether or not those factors will matter against a top rate opponent is still up in the air.