The UFC has signed 41 year old James “Lights Out” Toney to a multi-fight contract. The news comes with sharp criticism from fans and media, who think the UFC is taking that lower road, by putting on “Freak Shows”.
Toney has been very vocal in the media about wanting to join the UFC and has even gone so far as to hijack Dana White interviews at press events.
The backlash has prompted UFC President Dana White to defend the decision:
“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.” [Yahoo]
And if you though signing Toney is a joke, guess who is training him? Quinton Rampage Jackson’s former trainer and confidant Janito Ibarra:
“We have been working on stretching, sprawling and movement, all the things he will need to get a handle on. [Sherdog]”
It sure will be interesting to see how this pans out.