Renowned boxing trainer Freddie Roach may not understand what this MMA jazz is all about, nor does he have much of an appreciation for the ground game (with the possible exception of Fedor Emelianenko’s armbars, I think they’re called), but he sees what’s going on with the UFC’s James Toney signing, and he doesn’t care for it. As he told Crave Online recently:
“I think they’re using James as a way to say MMA fighters are better than boxers. If he fights a quality ground guy, once he goes to the ground he’s gonna get killed. But If a guy chooses to stand up with James, James is gonna destroy him. That’s why they call him “Lights Out”. I really don’t think there’s one fighter in MMA that could stand with James.”
And thus, Roach exposes the great dark secret about the UFC’s latest maneuver. Signing Toney is just a ruse to make all boxers look inferior to MMA fighters. It is, at the very least, an interesting theory. It’s not without its problems, however.
For one, Toney relentlessly pursued the UFC – not the other way around. He showed up at press conferences, made several incoherent YouTube videos, and generally refused to go away. If Toney is getting used here, it’s something he practically begged for.
Second, if Toney gets murdered in his first UFC fight, all it will prove is that this particular boxer wasn’t ready for this particular MMA bout. We’re not kidding ourselves here. We know that Toney is a 41 year-old has-been in the boxing world. Beating him in a boxing match wouldn’t even prove that much anymore. Beating him outside his own sport is just something we expect of any decent MMA fighter who plays it smart.
If the guy chooses to stand and bang? Yeah, maybe then it’s lights out. Then again, maybe we find out how Toney likes being kicked upside his head.