It’s been talked about many times in the past, but finally the UFC have signed a world-class boxer to compete in the octagon – 41 year old James Toney.
The news was first reported by the fiveOuncesOfPain website, who say that the boxer has put pen to paper on a multi-fight deal with the promotion.
With a professional boxing record of 72-6-3 (2nc), the former middleweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight title holder, and current NABO / IBO heavyweight champion is undoubtedly a special talent in the ring.
It remains to be seen whether he can make a similar impression in the octagon however where he will have to prepare himself for a host of new attacking threats such as knees, kicks, elbows, takedowns, wrestling, submissions and much more.
I can’t lie, I’m disheartened by this news. I believe the UFC should be above such ‘freak show’ match-ups at this stage. Despite his decorated boxing career Toney is past his best at 41 years of age, and interviews suggests that he knows little about the intricacies of the sport.
That’s not to say it’s beyond the realms of possibility that he could pull off a win though. He’ll always have ‘a punchers chance,’ and if whoever he’s paired up against decides to test out how their boxing skills compare to Toney’s they will more than likely live to regret it.
That’s not the point though. We are at the stage now where the fighters in the UFC are genuine MIXED martial artists with knowledge of all aspects of the game, and that’s what the sport should be continuing to focus on and develop.
One-dimensional fighters like James Toney only drags the sport back into the era that many have worked so hard to bring us out of.
PS. Don’t forget to brace yourself for a whole new wave of egotistical celebs and washed-up sportsmen trying to talk their way into a UFC contract in the weeks and months ahead now that the flood gates have been opened.