With most fans criticizing Dana White’s decision to sign James Toney to a multiple fight, non exclusive contract to the UFC, what may seem like a freak show, could turn out to be some great exposure for the Ultimate Fighting Championships. Already pasted all over the news headlines, the mixed martial arts world has been divided on their opinions of James Toney trying his hand at MMA. Toney, Ring Magazines ‘fighter of the year’ in 1991 and 2003 will definitely be the most decorated boxer to come into MMA. Having held world titles at Middleweight, Super Middleweight, Cruiserweight, and Heavyweight. Toney widely regarded as one of the all time greats in boxing, has got a long road ahead of him, if he is to have any success inside the Octagon. First rule of action – Hiring Juanito Ibarra as his trainer. Juanito Ibarra, famous for improving the hands of Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson, could spell disaster for Toney. Boxing in MMA is different, while most boxers criticize the boxing abilities of Mixed Martial Artists, in MMA, you have to distribute your weight differently, be aware of not just punches, but knees, kicks, elbows and takedown attempts. If you utilize a boxing stance in MMA, be prepared to have your lead leg constantly kicked out from under you, as nicely demonstrated by Forrest Griffin in his Light heavyweight Title win over ‘Rampage’ back at UFC 86. Griffin constantly kicked away at ‘Rampage’s’ lead leg, while remaining out of Jackson’s reach, by the 2nd of the 5 round title fight, Jackson was noticeably limping and unable to put any weight down on his lead leg, thus taking all the power away from his punches, and leaving him vulnerable, should he need to try to defend a takedown attempt. Jackson split from Ibarra, shortly after that loss. While it can’t hurt Toney working on his hands, his best bet at having any success, would be to follow the examples other strikers have made in their transitions into MMA. At the age of 41, he’s never going to become good on the ground, but what he can do is hire a wrestling coach and BJJ coach, to work extensively on his sprawl and takedown and submission defence, a method employed by Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic when he made the move from K-1 to Pride. If Toney is able to keep the fight standing then he does stand a chance at having a win inside the Octagon. That tho, is if he can get the knockout early in the fight. The pace of MMA is completely different to boxing, and I don’t see the Tubby one being able to adapt. Dana White has already stated that he wants Toney to compete at 205, hopefully giving him a better gas tank. Then the question of who he should fight. It would be almost unfair to put him in with anyone inside the Octagon, but an opponent with a professional boxing background, who would likely stand and trade punches with Toney could be the best option. Regardless of how his fight goes with James Irvin this month, Alessio Sakara could be that option. Regardless of how he trains and who he fights, it seems that the UFC has no interest in really developing Toney. Dave Meltzer recently pointed out that Dana White only signed Toney, to stop him signing with Strikeforce. Toney is the first fighter to be signed to a non-exclusive contract, leaving him free to continue to box. Toney will be used to create one or two high-profile fights, which will create great media interest, and some good viewing figures, and possibly attract some new fans from the boxing world. Toney’s entrance into MMA is about 10 years to late. It’s a shame as should he have gotten into MMA much earlier on, he could have had a lot more time to develop as a Mixed Martial Artist, and have some decent success.
Will Toney have any success?10 03 2010