Sitting face to face multi-boxing champion James “Lights Out” Toney asked Ultimate Fighting Championship president Dana White point-blank about fighting one of the organization’s heavyweight fighters in a mixed martial art contest.
“Yes, I’m interested,” said White.
In a closed door meeting between White and Toney with only four other people including myself and videographer Don Avila present on Saturday night, the two representatives of the largest fight worlds hashed out early details to see if a fight between a noted pro boxer and MMA fighter is sensible.
“I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it made sense,” said White. “There are a lot of guys out there from boxing that call me but it never made sense. You’re a guy I respect.”
Toney, a former middleweight, super middleweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight champion, has spent the last 10 years chasing the Klitschko brothers to no avail.
“It’s all you reporter’s fault,” said Toney. “You keep saying how great these guys are and how bad they are. They’ve been avoiding me for years. They’re scared.”
It’s Toney’s willingness to fight anybody at any time that intrigues White, who has always abhorred most of professional boxing’s penchant for not making matches that make sense.
“You’re a mean, nasty, f-----g dude. I’ve been a James Toney fan for a long time. No BS,” said White who cleared out his personnel from UFC’s make-shift office below the MGM Garden Arena to have the impromptu meeting late Saturday night. “Yes I’m interested. I’m interested in doing this and I’ve been talking to my partner Lorenzo (Fertitta) about it and we’re both interested in it. The hard part is I’m the one always talking shit about people who put together a freak show.”
What UFC’s mastermind means is that fights with boxers versus MMA fighters have been put on in the past. In those fights the stark differences in fighting rules and styles always made for mismatches. Plus, those boxers were not the quality of a James Toney.
White said that he’s been asked by many professional boxers to fight in UFC, including Evander Holyfield.
“Dude, when I was growing up, that dude’s (Holyfield) poster was on my wall,” White told Toney.
Several key points were asked by White including whether Toney has take down defense, has ever been kicked or knows how to check a kick, and if he has ever wrestled?
“Trust me. I would never do something that would make me look bad. That’s rule number one,” said Toney to White. “They call me the Dark Emperor because I rule everything that I do.”
White said he does not want a mismatch and seeks to find out more about Toney’s MMA abilities. But based on what the boxing champion said, it looks like a fight will proceed pitting the sure Hall of Fame boxer against one of the UFC heavyweights.
“I just want to make sure you have the skills. But I’m not so blinded by MMA. I know you can walk in there with one single punch and this fight will be over,” said White. “But I got to know that you have the basic skills.”
Toney promises to surprise White and MMA fans with his other fighting abilities.
“I want to fight your best boy. You ain’t scared now? If you’re scared we’ll walk up out of here and still be friends,” joked Toney.
White said he will begin gearing up the UFC machine including preparations for countdown shows and a further look at Toney’s fighting prowess inside the Octagon.
“I respect James Toney and I don’t know anybody that doesn’t know what a bad MF James Toney is,” said White. “He’s always had the mystique about him. He’ll fight anyone at any time. He’s a bad MF.”
The two massive fight worlds will probably collide in late spring.
“Let’s see how we can make this thing happen,” said White.