The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty


UFC signs James Toney. It’s independently confirmed by the Wrestling Observer through Dana White, so it’s legit.

Ok, I’ll admit it: I’m stunned. Never saw this one coming. As for what the angle is, it’s hard to tell. Toney will have to fight at heavyweight where any wrestler will kill him deader than dead after the first takedown and he’ll be giving up size to many or all major competitors. Standing he’ll be effective-ish given that he still has a fine chin and all a boxer’s skills, but he’s not a killer puncher and if he has to modify his technique to enable sprawls and account for kicks after all these years it’s anyone’s guess what effect that will have. He’s 41 and has been showing his age of late, which means if they want him to be in a money fight against a top guy they’ll have to rush him out there quickly as a freak show fight, and given what his pay is likely to be it’s hard to imagine they can afford to build him up for long against the Antoni Hardonk’s of the world. As a fighter, he’s basically a stunt and no more in the UFC at this point. Maybe he’ll face Kimbo Slice- that’d be an epic freak show fight, but it may be the best possible use of both guys given that they’re next to impossible to book effectively against serious mainstream fighters.

As a PR consideration, well… if he fights Brock and gets rubbed out in 2 minutes it could be argued as good PR for the sport vs. boxing, but Toney is a fringe guy at this point and beating him proves little. It could also look like UFC treating a guy who means nothing in boxing anymore as a big deal which is not a great road to go down. Worse, Toney brings a giant load of baggage to the table: multiple steroid positives, awful training habits which sometimes make the sport look ridiculous to the uneducated, and a habit of engaging in the kind of trash-talking which gets ignored in boxing because the sport is off the mainstream map, but which will get UFC killed in the press. Think the reaction to Frank Mir last week was harsh? Just wait until a week after Toney’s first UFC promo when they decode his mumbles and discover 5 new and innovative uses for the word “fuck” in one sentence.

Overall… I can’t say it’s a bad move. It will get people talking and it will draw mainstream attention, both useful in a period when UFC has put on a succession of “meh” shows which have slowed the company’s momentum. It’s a total freak show, but as I’ve said I don’t mind a good freak show fight from time to time and at least in Toney you have a guy who’s a (more or less) active competitor in another fighting sport, which is as reasonable as you can get as the background for one of these. The ultimate end and effect of this will be a product of the booking and presentation- how under control Toney is, who he fights, when, how the fight is presented and hyped up, etc. etc. It could go either way or even end up as not that big a deal after all in the end. But I will say this: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t interested.

EDIT: 3 things:

1. I cannot believe it’s 2010 and I’m STILL talking about James F’n Toney. You must respect the man as a survivor in a cutthroat business, if nothing else.

2. UFC 1: November 12, 1993. James Toney’s pro debut: September 7, 1989. Perspective right there.

3. Jeremy Botter of various MMA sources and Houston radio is saying right now on the Observer board that his sources are telling him that Toney will not face Kimbo first. We shall see.


March 3, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing, MMA


  1. Did you see the left hook that James Toney got? Sucka move I stole from a gamecock…Ya’ll musta forgot!

    Comment by Tony M | March 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. I’m going to assume that’s an actual lyric, and I’m going to pray for you.

    Comment by theshipbesinking | March 4, 2010 | Reply

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