James Toney, a 41-year-old boxing champion in six different weight divisions with 11 world titles, has made it clear to UFC President Dana White that he would like to compete in the Octagon.
Toney claimed that White had been dodging him and ignoring his request to square off against the best athletes that the UFC has to offer. The two men finally meet to discuss the possibility after Toney busted in on the UFC 108 post fight press conference in Las Vegas, Nevada.
White, apparently amused by Toney’s doggedness and light hearted threat to go to the UFC’s President’s home in order to get a deal done, shared his position on the matter, stating, “He chased me down in Memphis [UFC 107], now he is here in Vegas… so I’m going to talk to him.”
The “talk” was captured in a YouTube video. White, a shrewd businessman, showed surprising patience and respect for Toney when the pair finally sat down to explore Toney’s mixed martial arts ambitions.
Toney, accompanied by his handlers, explained to White that he was a “free agent” and that he wanted to “make some business happen”. White, not one to beat around the bush, asked if Toney could wrestle, to which the boxer replied, “I got surprises for you”. White ask Toney if he has takedown defense, to which the boxer’s representative replied, “He has been practicing… I think within three months he will be able to defend himself quite adequately.”
Despite those less than reassuring responses, White went on to say that he is a James Toney fan and that he and his partner, UFC Chairman and CEO Lorenzo Fertitta, are interested in bringing Toney into the fold.
While White stopped short of making any formal commitment, he did invite Toney’s representative to follow up on this meeting with a telephone call so the two sides can more clearly identify their respective expectations.
Toney is certainly not the first boxer to express interest in joining the world of mixed marital arts. In fact, well-known boxers such as Ray Mercer and Eric “Butterbean“ Esch have made the transition to MMA with varying degrees of success.
White has his own thoughts on the basis of this newfound interest.
“There’s no money over there [in boxing]… There’s money there for two or three guys and that’s it,” he explained to a group of media following UFC 108. “There’s thousands of guys that are making no money, which is what I’ve always said.”
Time will tell if the UFC opens it doors to James Toney or any other high profile boxers seeking to cash in on the MMA explosion. One only hopes that the new imports are venturing into the Octagon due to an appreciation for the sport rather than a desperate and misguided attempt to pad their wallets.
You can watch the meeting with White and Toney below: