(Striking fear in the hearts of buffet owners everywhere.)
Now that James Toney has signed with the UFC and hired a trainer known primarily for his boxing expertise, you might think he’d be hard at work trying to get a feel for this MMA stuff. If this were a movie, this is the point where some inspiring, upbeat music would accompany a training montage that shows Toney’s rapid improvement in the span of just a few minutes. But this isn’t a movie; this is real life. And in real life, “Lights Out” isn’t really that worried about anyone taking him down and laying on top of him.
As Toney told MMAFighting.com, he still has yet to do any actual MMA sparring, but has been shown some “basics” by Juanito Ibarra. He’s also “tried a little kickboxing and wrestling,” but isn’t too concerned since it’s “all hand-to-hand combat.” In other words, don’t even trip. Toney has got this under control, playa.
His dismissive attitude toward the ground game and total lack of a sense of urgency about learning MMA in general might be a little more disconcerting if Toney were expected to face an experienced fighter in his UFC debut. But as the rumor mill continues to churn, more and more reports have Kimbo Slice as a potential first opponent.
"To be truly honest, I haven’t heard a thing from the UFC, and it’s frustrating me. It’s my understanding that it took awhile to get his paperwork signed, but I’m sure it’s signed. …I texted Joe Silva (Thursday) night and asked what was happening, if there was any danger of this being cancelled. His response was basically that nothing was official and that I should keep preparing — that I’m still fighting in Montreal."
It seems as though the rumors that Kimbo might be pulled out of the fight to take on Toney had Mitrione spooked, as he concluded: "Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire."
Toney doesn’t seem too excited about the prospect of fighting Kimbo, saying that he didn’t sign with the UFC “to be in a sideshow.” But if he’s expecting someone a little closer to the Randy Couture end of the MMA spectrum, he might want to get more serious about learning the ground game, and fast. If he’s planning to make his debut on a pay-per-view event this summer, as he claims, there’s precious little time to become an expert at sprawl-and-brawl.