A lot of old-school boxing guys seize on every opportunity they get to take shots at mixed martial arts, but Freddie Roach
isn't one of those old-school boxing guys. Roach likes MMA, has trained and cornered MMA fighters, and thinks the two sports can coexist peacefully.
So when Roach throws out a criticism of the UFC -- as he did when asked about the upcoming fight between former UFC champion Randy Couture
and former boxing champion James Toney
-- it can't be dismissed in the way tired criticisms from so many old-school boxing guys can be.
But I still think Roach is wrong.
"I think it's a bad decision," Roach told East Side Boxing
. "I don't think it will work. I think the UFC is just trying to say they're better than boxing because if James fought Couture in a boxing match James would absolutely destroy him, but if he fights him in a UFC/MMA style fight James does not have a ground game, once he goes to the ground it's over. It's completely two different sports and they're just trying to use older boxers to make their sport look better."
There's a kernel of truth to what Roach is saying: Toney would obviously beat Couture in a boxing match (which I'm sure Couture would admit), and although Toney has the proverbial puncher's chance against Couture in an MMA fight, it's almost impossible for me to envision Toney actually beating Couture when they fight in August. And I'm sure that once Couture wins, there will be plenty of folks in the MMA community who use the fight to gloat over boxing.
But there are a couple of things that Roach gets wrong here. For starters, as The Garv points out
, Toney got the fight only after repeatedly lobbying the UFC to sign him. It's not like the UFC was beating the bushes looking for washed-up boxers to get their butts kicked in the Octagon.
And the truth is, the UFC is a business, and whenever they sign a new fighter, they're doing it because they think that fighter has the potential to generate revenue. With a high-profile fighter like Toney, that potential to generate revenueis certainly greater, and in the specific case of Toney the signing is potentially particularly lucrative to the UFC because Toney might get some boxing fans who have never previously purchased a UFC pay-per-view to buy this one. If those boxing fans like what they see and buy more pay-per-views, Toney will pay dividends to the UFC long after he's gone.
Ultimately, the UFC signed Toney because it thinks having Toney in the Octagon will benefit the bottom line. Nothing wrong with that.