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The case for James Toney

For an industry that has a fuckload of blogs, there sure isn’t a lot of quality MMA opinion floating around. That’s why I like the Sunday Junkie: it’s the intelligent readers (I specify because their comments section can be dumber than a box of hair) sharing their thoughts in mini-blog format. This Sunday a lot of those thoughts were from UFC fans trying to defeat the cognitive dissonance caused by their noble organization signing freakshow James Toney. It’s worth a read because their doublethink is very convincing, but if you’re of the ‘too long, didn’t read’ persuasion here’s their thoughts summed up:

  • If Toney loses, MMA gets a high profile “Suck our cocks, boxing” win with the mainstream media
  • If Toney wins, it might be the catalyst for MMA fighters taking their striking to the next level
  • No one would be saying shit if the UFC signed some Olympic judoka or wrestler. So why the boxing hate?

There’s really only one point I agree with here, and that’s the idea that this is a great opportunity to stick it to boxing while ESPN and the gang are watching. Past that, I doubt a Toney win would start some kind of striking revolution, mainly because boxing doesn’t have some magic secret about better striking, it’s just that MMA fighters are limited by … well, their limitations. You can’t just will yourself to get better than you are even by spending more time in the gym. Everyone has a talent ceiling that cannot be surpassed no matter how many Rocky-esque training montages they go through.

As for the ‘boxing hate’, this isn’t really boxing hate. This is James Toney hate. The dude’s a repeat steroid offender and has been lugging around a big ol jelly belly for the past few years. Add the fact that he hasn’t been ‘the man’ since the 90s and we have a lot more than just the fact that he’s a boxer to dish about.

But I understand at this point the contract has been signed so we might as well look for some silver linings here. Besides, the people saying this is akin to digging up Helio Gracie and giving his corpse a good buggering are overreacting. Most likely Toney will have two fights – one against Kimbo (eugh, too much smoke on that one not for it to catch fire sooner or later) and a legit one. The Kimbo one will do stupid good business and the legit one will send Toney packing. If Toney sucks and the fights are terrible, it’ll reflect worse on him than the UFC. If he manages to pull off a win … well, I think we can survive that knock to our pride too. Yeah, it sucks that Dana’s selling a little piece of the company’s legitimacy doing this. But at least it’s just a small one.