James "Lights Out" Toney holds boxing titles in multiple weight classes. On Aug. 28, he’ll be the biggest name in boxing to step into the octagon when he goes up against former UFC heavyweight champion Randy Couture.
Win or lose, Toney will be making his debut into the world of MMA — and he isn’t the first athlete to stray from the sport that made him famous.
Perhaps the most well-known two-sport athlete is Bo Jackson, who was an All-Star in both football and baseball. He played running back for the Raiders and left field for the Royals, White Sox and Angels.
Before becoming a Dodgers Hall of Famer, Jackie Robinson lettered in four sports at UCLA. He played shortstop, running back, point guard and was a long jumper as well.
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge originally chose baseball over basketball, playing four seasons with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 1981, he changed his mind, was drafted by the Celtics and won two championships in eight seasons in Boston.
Michael Jordan was one of the NBA’s greatest when he retired in 1993 and then tried his hand at baseball. But after 18 months, Jordan was batting .202 and opted to return to the Bulls — and won three more championships.
Deion Sanders is the only athlete to win the Super Bowl and play in a World Series. He even hit a home run and scored a touchdown in the same week. Ultimately, he chose to concentrate on football, winning two Super Bowls and making eight trips to the Pro Bowl.
While Toney doesn’t quite have the same cache as those mentioned above, he will represent the entire sport of boxing at UFC 118.
Without any prior MMA experience and several years removed from his last boxing title, it’s unclear whether Toney will excel. For all anybody knows, he could come out and embarrass himself, Jose Canseco-style.
But whether Toney is a double-sport superstar like Sanders, or his second sport fizzles like Jordan’s did, the boxer turned mixed martial artist joins a rare group of talents.
In other news, Chad Ochocinco offers the Jets’ Darrelle Revis a solution to his contract troubles. Pete Carroll reflects on Terrell Owens’ career. And Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley all weigh in on LeBron James.
"I will be boxing and UFC champion at the same time. I’m officially a two-sport athlete."
–James Toney, on MMAweekly.com, talking about his upcoming MMA debut against Randy Couture
"@revis24 dude, im stupid excited for the season, don't hold out, you can have some of my fine fund money i set aside, let's have fun!"
–Chad Ochocinco, to Darrelle Revis via Twitter, on Revis’ contract struggles with the Jets
"I was there [as an assistant coach] when he showed up with the 49ers when he was a rookie and nobody knew he had any initials or anything."
–Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, on ESPN.com, reflecting on T.O.’s career
"I can walk fine, but you don't walk in football."
—Brett Favre, to Hannah Storm backstage at the ESPY Awards, regarding his injured ankle
"No matter what one thinks of the Yankees' treatment of Joe Torre, likening it to how Germany and Russia treated their generals who fell out of favor is an inappropriate comparison,"
–New York Yankees, in a statement, responding to Tim McCarver’s comments comparing the team’s treatment of Joe Torre to WWII
"We thought we were in great shape. We weren't. We thought we were good teammates. We could've been better. We thought we wouldn't survive the workout they were putting us through. Thankfully, somehow, we did."
—Joe Colborne, on NESN.com, describing his first day of Bruins development camp
"I'm not the least bit sorry."
–Paraguay soccer player Jose Pedroso, in The Associated Press, after receiving a 27-game ban for choking a referee during a Chilean second-division match
"He's like a caged animal. We have got to get him back in the lineup, or someone is going to kill him."
–Red Sox manager Terry Francona, to WEEI, on Dustin Pedroia’s rehab progress
"There's no way, with hindsight, I would've ever called up Larry [Bird], called up Magic [Johnson] and said, 'Hey, look, let's get together and play on one team. … But … things are different. I can't say that's a bad thing. It's an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys."
–Michael Jordan, to ESPN.com, on LeBron James’ decision to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh
"He'll never be Jordan. This clearly takes him out of the conversation. He can win as much as he wants to. … No matter how many he wins in Miami, it clearly is Dwyane Wade's team."
–Charles Barkley, regarding LeBron’s legacy
"I remember back in my days, I'd rather play against Earvin Johnson than play with him. He's a guy I always compared myself to. I'd rather stay in Boston and let him stay in L.A. and just compete every year in the Finals. That's what made me a better player. It would have been too easy if we had played together."
— Celtics legend Larry Bird, on 1070 The Fan, offering his take on the LeBron saga