Former pro boxer James Toney has signed a multi-fight contract to compete in the UFC. The promotion’s president, Dana White, confirmed the signing on Wednesday with MMAFighting.com after the news was first reported by FiveOuncesofPain.com.
Details of the contract, as well as Toney’s first bout with the promotion, were not immediately available.
The 41-year-old former IBF middleweight and super middleweight champion has publicly campaigned for a shot in the Octagon since late last year. Toney attended back-to-back UFC events in November and December, and video of White and Toney in impromptu discussions even surfaced online.
In early January, White said he was cautious of the prospect of allowing a pro boxer to enter the UFC ranks.
“(Boxer) Zab (Judah’s) like, ‘Man, you need to teach these guys how to box. You need to teach them this, that, and everything,’ but these guys don’t understand,” said White. “You don’t balance your weight the same way you balance your weight in boxing. You’ll get that front leg kicked off into the eighth row somewhere if you distribute your weight the same way they do in boxing. There’s an education process there for these guys that I learned the f—ing hard way. I went in and got choked out and kicked in the leg and all the stuff that happened to me when I started.”
White said he was unsure if promoting a pro boxer would translate well into pay-per-view buys. White was also aware of the potential backlash that could come with the move.
“I got blasted this week? Let me make this fight. Then I’ll get blasted from her to– I’m the first guy out there going, ‘This is a f—ing freak show. Who would put on a fight like that?’” said White. “But I gotta tell you this. I’ve always wanted to see a guy–(Toney’s) a guy I actually respect. He’s tough as nails. He’s mean. He’s nasty. (But) he better get in shape if he wants to come in here and do this stuff.”
Toney’s flirtation in the UFC has been ongoing. In October 2006, former UFC champion Randy Couture said he was called by the promotion with a potential bout against the pro boxer that never came to fruition.