Pep Talk Q&A: Toney, Toney, Toney

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(A lighter “Lights Out.”)

Pep, I don’t understand why so many people are down on the Toney signing. He obviously has world class hands and striking is a part of MMA. When wrestlers come into MMA and can’t strike, we give them a chance. So what’s the difference?

Robert S.
New York

I understand your point, Robert, but there are significant differences. For starters, high-level wrestling skills translate extremely well into mixed martial arts. If a strong wrestler faces a great striker with limited takedown defense and ground skills the wrestler has the option of taking their opponent down if they’re having trouble on the feet as long as they don’t get knocked out. Think Cain Velasquez vs. Cheick Kongo. The opposite is definitely not true for the boxer. Once they are on the ground and having trouble with a grappler their boxing skills have been rendered useless and won’t get them out of trouble. Think of the long list of wrestlers who have achieved tremendous success in MMA…Randy Couture, Rashad Evans, Jon Jones, Jon Fitch, Josh Koscheck, Urijah Faber, Gray Maynard, Brock Lesnar, Cain Velasquez, Shane Carwin, etc. Now think of all the guys who have kicked ass in the cage who came from a boxing background. Keep thinking. E-mail me back when you come up with a few.

The other issue that few have focused on is how well boxing striking actually translates into MMA striking. Everyone who says that no one will be able to stand with James Toney seems to be forgetting that knees and kicks are components of the MMA striking game that boxers have never had to prepare for. Additionally, traditional boxing stances have to be tweaked to protect the boxer from an array of MMA attacks. Last but not least, wrestlers who come into MMA understand that they have to learn all aspects of the MMA game to be successful in the cage. Toney appears to be living under the delusion that he can simply learn a little takedown defense for a few months and that he’ll knock out whoever tries to take him down before his ass hits the canvas. He’s also trying to box and do MMA at the same time, so the commitment that wrestlers who went on to become top MMA fighters displayed doesn’t appear to be there.

I love the Toney signing. Too many people, you included, are making this an MMA vs. Boxing thing and I don’t think that’s what it is at all. I think it will be interesting to see a top boxer against a current MMA fighter. What’s the big deal?

I hate that the UFC signed Toney. Dana has no right to ever criticize Strikeforce for signing Herschel Walker now that he has brought in a fat, over-the-hill boxer and denigrated the sport. Color me disgusted.


I included Marianne’s comment as an example of the intense split of opinion out there about Dana’s decision to bring Toney to the UFC. Judging from this weeks e-mails, if Dana’s goal was to get people talking, mission accomplished.


Who’s Number One?

Pep, wasn’t Benavidez/Torres a number one contender fight to get the winner of Bowles/Cruz? I read that there’s a good chance that Benavidez won’t get the shot even though he destroyed Torres but there’s no doubt that Torres would have gotten Cruz if he beat Joseph. Why? If not Joseph, who?

Frankie T.

A lot of people were under the impression that the winner of Benavidez/Torres would get the next title shot but it’s clear at this point that the WEC hadn’t made that commitment. I agree with you that had Miguel beaten Joseph that he would have certainly been offered the Cruz fight (although he repeatedly said that he wanted to fight Bowles next even if it wasn’t for the title). As for Joseph, WEC matchmaker Sean Shelby said this week that he’s not a fan of rematches for title shots unless he thinks there’s strong reason to believe that the fight wouldn’t look the same as the first one. When Joseph and Dominick fought the first time, two judges scored the fight 29-28 and one 30-27, all for Cruz. It was a competitive fight and Joseph has looked unstoppable since while Cruz had a great performance against Bowles to take the title. I can’t imagine anyone would complain if that was the matchup. Ironically, had Bowles retained his title there is little doubt that Joseph would’ve been granted a title shot after his dominant performance over Miguel. If not Joseph, Scott Jorgensen should get the shot in my opinion. He dominated Takeya Mizugaki and just submitted Chad George in 31 seconds. He may have the best wrestling in the division and has an absolutely non-stop gas tank, as does Cruz, so I’m guessing that would be a barnburner.

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