After months of speculation the UFC announced yesterday that one of boxing’s most decorated champions in recent times, James Toney, had been signed to a multi-fight deal.
Now the question on everybody’s lips is, ‘who should he fight?‘
The truth of the matter is that even Dana White doesn’t have an answer to that question just yet, simply saying that he will, “figure something out.”
One man who does have a suggestion though, is Juanito Ibarra, the former trainer of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, who is currently showing Toney the fundamentals of mixed martial arts.
“James Toney will fight anybody. It’s up to us to help him figure things out. What I would like to see and what his manager would like to see…Kimbo Slice,” Ibarra told The Bleacher Report.
“It makes sense. The weight factor makes sense. Maybe a 220 [lbs.] fight somewhere in there. Two guys who have great names. I would love to see that fight …I think that’s a great opponent …hopefully the UFC would consider something like that.”
It’s no surprise to hear Toney’s camp presenting the case for such a bout. Realistically, in a stand-up battle there is little chance that a backyard brawler like Kimbo Slice would be able to defeat a world-class boxer like Toney who has fought, and in many cases beaten, some of the best the sport has to offer.
At the same time I have to argue that, despite what Ibarra says, this fight makes no sense.
Granted it’d be entertaining to watch, but I thought Toney wanted to test himself in an MMA fight? If he goes up against Kimbo it’s just going to be a glorified boxing bout under the UFC’s banner.
Also, what happened to Toney wanting to fight the best the UFC had to offer? Let’s be honest, Kimbo Slice could scarcely be any further down the ladder in terms of the available talent at the promotion’s disposal in either the light-heavyweight or heavyweight division.
last night Dana White told Yahoo! Sports that, “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.”
If he opts Tony Vs Slice however, then there will be no disguising this as anything other than a freak show. Sure it would be a money-spinner, but the UFC needs to think of the long-term credibility of the sport rather than making a quick buck.
So who should Toney fight?
Dana White has suggested he wants Toney to fight at light-heavyweight, though it appears the fighters camp may be looking to negotiate a catchweight bout instead.
With that in mind, former UFC light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion Randy Couture is the kind of opponent that makes sense to me. Like Toney he is an accomplished and decorated fighter, and most importantly for me, he is also a genuine mixed martial artist that will test more than just Toney’s boxing skills.
Couture has already confirmed on twitter that he wants the fight, now the ball lies in White’s court.