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Report: James Toney signs multi-fight deal with UFC

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According to Five Ounces of Pain, UFC has signed James Toney to a multi-fight deal. The former middleweight, super middleweight and cruiserweight titleholder and longtime heavyweight contender has no set date for a debut with the world's biggest MMA company. Rumors have centered on Toney facing Randy Couture.

Toney (72-6-3, 44 KO) has had a history of conditioning problems, but they're mostly relative to the fact that he's 5'10" with a 72" reach. His highest-ever fighting weight was 237 against Hasim Rahman in 2006, and he got down to 217 1/2 for his last fight, which took place in September 2009 against club fighter Matthew Greer.

Toney's recent boxing career has been rather rough going. He still talks up his win over Evander Holyfield, which came in 2003. He won the WBA heavyweight title in 2005, but the result was changed to a no-contest when Toney failed his post-fight drug test in New York.

Here's his recent run for those interested that might not know much about "Lights Out":

  • 2006-03-18, Hasim Rahman, D-12: I thought Toney deserved the win if anyone did, but this awful fight was scored a draw.
  • 2006-09-02, Samuel Peter, L-SD-12: Many felt Toney won this fight.
  • 2007-01-06, Samuel Peter, L-UD-12: Nobody felt Toney won this fight. Maybe Toney.
  • 2007-05-24, Danny Batchelder, W-SD-10: Journeyman Batchelder and Toney both failed their post-fight drug tests.
  • 2008-07-16, Hasim Rahman, NC-3: Rahman quit due to injury. Originally ruled a TKO-3 for Toney, but rightly changed by the California commission.
  • 2008-12-13, Fres Oquendo, W-SD-12: Only judge Tony Crebs at ringside had his glasses on, scoring it 116-110 for Oquendo, which was about what I saw. The first Toney-Peter fight was close. The Rahman-Toney draw was pretty close. This one I feel was a true robbery.
  • 2009-09-12, Matthew Greer, W-TKO-2: Only notable for the fact that Toney came in at his lightest weight in six years.

That's what UFC is signing. A faded, 41-year-old boxer whose mouth has long surpassed his in-ring ability, and who hasn't beaten a decent opponent in four years, not counting the Oquendo scoring debacle. He's also failed two drug tests in the last five years.

By no means is James Toney a bad boxer, even now. He's still got the sort of frustrating style that can give a lot of guys problems, and there are guys in my own boxing heavyweight top 10 I'd give him a very good chance to beat.

But will he translate to MMA? It's unlikely. I don't think he's that guy.

It's also hard to ignore that Toney has flat-out run out of boxing paydays. Part of it, as his promoter Dan Goossen says, is that a lot of guys want nothing to do with James. I buy that. Again, he's still got annoying skills, plus he's not selling to TV networks anymore, isn't worth a lot of money, and has been largely out of the spotlight since the Peter rematch. With no avenues open in boxing at age 41, UFC really might be worth a crack for James.

HT: Bloody Elbow