“We threw the kitchen sink at Brock when he came in. Are we going to do that same thing with James? I don’t know. 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. But if we promote him and he does well and that raises his profile and he gets a Klitschko fight and makes a lot of money for himself and Goossen, I’d be cool with that. But 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.”
—Dana White telling Yahoo! Sports he’s still figuring out what to do with James Toney, but it won’t be a “freak show”
The report also reveals that Toney will compete as a light heavyweight and will be allowed to box, which is a first for the UFC. According to Dana, Strikeforce was also talking to Toney about fighting Herschel Walker. Toney had this to say about the signing.
“Don’t make wise cracks about my weight, because I’ve been working hard and the next time you see me, you’ll be shocked,” said Toney, who said he would probably box sometime in the next six weeks to get the rust off. “Dana put his foot in his mouth and said UFC guys are better fighters than boxers. We’ll see. Everyone who knows anything about fighting knows I’m the purest fighter in the game. There ain’t no secrets.
“I’ve been fighting a long time. I was born fighting. I know what I’m doing. Boxing is still my main focus, but them guys are a bunch of (expletives) and they don’t want to fight. So I called Dana after he put his foot in his mouth and I’m going to prove he doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
His first opponent is still a mystery, but Randy Couture is already asking for the fight.
Update: Dave Meltzer seems to think the Toney signing, or at least the willingness on the UFC’s part to allow him to box, had a lot to do with Strikeforce trying to sign him to fight Herschel Walker.Via Fight Opinion:
“Strikeforce was negotiating or at least Dana (White) was under the impression that Strikeforce was negotiating a Herschel Walker/James Toney fight for CBS most likely, perhaps for PPV. And so he decided that I will outbid them and ruin that fight. So I think that’s what that’s all about because the key to me is that they’re letting [Toney] box. I mean, like if [UFC] had any you know thoughts that this guy was really valuable to them, they weren’t going to sign him to a non-exclusive contract. They’ve never signed anyone to a non-exclusive contract and they signed him to a non-exclusive contract.”
On a semi-related note, there are rumblings that the UFC may counter-program Strikeforce’s April 17 CBS event with a live event of their own. However, since Herschel Walker is no longer associated with that card, will the UFC still see it as a big of enough threat to justify putting together a whole new event for? Doesn’t seem like it to me, but who knows. I wouldn’t put it past the UFC to do anything to crush the competition. Apparently, Strikeforce is prepared for it though. Josh Gross is hearing SF has the flexibility to switch their event to April 24 and counter WEC 48 if the UFC tries to counter them on April 17. Promotion chess match.
Oh, and by the way, Pat Barry wants to fight James Toney…tonight!
“It’s awesome, man,” he said. “It just widens the pool of fighters. If it was up to me, I’d rather see someone get stung and knocked out versus submitted any day. If he hits you, you’re going to get hurt. I’m looking forward to seeing him do damage if he can make the adjustment.”
“It’s dope, man,” Barry said. “I want to fight him. Tonight.”
Love that guy.