Freddie Roach, the world renowned boxing coach is the first to admit that he does not fully understand the sport of mixed martial arts, but he does have an opinion on the UFC’s signing of decorated boxing champion James Toney.
“I think they’re using James as a way to say MMA fighters are better than boxers,” he said. “If he fights a quality ground guy, once he goes to the ground he’s gonna get killed. But if a guy chooses to stand up with James, James is gonna destroy him. That’s why they call him ‘Lights Out.’ I really don’t think there’s one fighter in MMA that could stand with James.”
I’ve got nothing but respect for Roach, but I don’t entirely agree with what he’s saying here.
For one thing it was Toney who pursued the UFC, and he has stated that he wants to fight the best the promotion has to offer. With that in mind it’s hard to portray him as a victim here, though it’s fair to say that Roach won’t be the only onlooker who thinks this way.
Also, while I believe it’s true that no fighter in the sport would be able to cope with Toney in a boxing bout, it’s a different matter when you suddenly bring in the other weapons available to a mixed martial artist such as leg kicks, knees and elbows.
I still think he could do some serious damage with his boxing credentials, but picture someone like up and coming star Jon Jones for instance with his reach advantage and unorthadox strikes coming from all angles and limbs that Toney will never have encountered in his storied career so far.
I think Jones could have him in trouble without even having to resort to his trademark Greco-Roman wrestling throws or vicious ground and pound.
As I’ve argued before on this site if the UFC put him in against another fighter who relies on their boxing – Kimbo Slice for instance – then this will have been a pointless exercise.
Toney says he wants to prove himself in MMA so it’s only fair to the sport if they put him up with someone who is a genuine mixed martial artist.