UFC chief on board with ‘freak show’

Dana White is a hypocrite.

At least that’s what he has accused himself of being several times in the past week.

The Ultimate Fighting Championship president has long railed against other promotions selling out the sport of mixed martial arts to improve their bottom line by staging fights that have far more entertainment value than competitive balance.

It appears that’s precisely what the UFC will do Aug. 28 in Boston, when it pits one of its legendary figures against boxing champion James Toney, making his MMA debut.

Toney will take on five-time champion Randy Couture at UFC 118.

“I said it before, and I’ll say it again, (I’m) always yapping about people who do ‘freak shows.’ (Now) I’m doing one,” White said.

Toney actually said it was a statement by White that got him interested in pursing the sport.

“When Dana White made that (comment) that MMA fighters were better than boxers, I (was) like, ‘Hold on, pardner. You’ve got it twisted,’ ” Toney said on Saturday. “I’ll take on your best. Because I’m the best.”

Toney said he believes as if he is being set up to fail.

“I know I’m coming in as an outsider,” Toney said. “I know Dana White’s trying to set me up with a tough guy and trying to prove (that) ‘I told you MMA’s better than boxing.’ It is what it is.”

To be fair, White has typically maintained his admiration of boxers and his belief that boxing and MMA are two different sports.

It’s not immediately evident where Toney heard the comments he cites.

White has, however, stated his belief that Toney is up against huge odds when he steps in the cage against an MMA fighter with the experience of Couture.

“He’s a good promoter. He’s almost as good as me,” Toney said. “After I knock this boy out, I’m going to make Dana White eat my glove. Right in the ring in Boston, his hometown.”

Toney added his move to MMA doesn’t mean he is done with the sport that made him a star.

“Boxing’s number one. I’m the (former) heavyweight champion of the world,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I go back? I’m going to do them both. I want to stay busy. Stay active.”

He said it’s Couture that should be worried about Toney’s skill set, not the other way around.

“I’m the best fighter he’s ever fought in his life. He’s never seen nobody like me in his life. What’s he going to do?” Toney asked.

Fans will get the chance to find out next month.

■ WEC 51 — World Extreme Cagefighting will hold WEC 51 in Broomfield, Colo., on Sept. 30, the Review-Journal has learned.

The Thursday night event will mark the Las Vegas-based organization’s first foray into Colorado.

No bouts for the card have been set, but it is the logical spot for featherweight champion Jose Aldo’s next title defense against Manny Gamburyan.

WEC 50, the organization’s first event in Las Vegas since December, will take place at the Palms on Aug. 18.

Dominick Cruz will defend his bantamweight belt against Joseph Benavidez, and Urijah Faber will make his debut in the division against Takeya Mizugaki.

■ UFC IN CHINA — White said the organization has made a hire to head up a new office in China, with an official announcement coming soon.

In addition to the headquarters on West Sahara Avenue, the company maintains offices in London and Toronto.

The UFC launched its China-specific website at UFC.cn this weekend. Live UFC events and possibly a Chinese version of “The Ultimate Fighter” are on tap.

White said the next countries on the radar for their own divisions are India and South Korea.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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