Couture Speaks on Toney: Boxer vs MMA fighter
Stopping by the Xtreme Couture Toronto gym on his way to Montreal, Randy Couture gave his thoughts regarding his probable match with veteran boxer James “Lights Out” Toney at UFC 118 in Boston.
“The Toney fight doesn’t really put me any closer to that [title shot], but it’s an interesting fight. For the last 13 years, we’ve been compared to boxers,” explains Couture. “Boxers start running their mouths and saying they’re going to knock every MMA guy out. Now one of them finally signed on the dotted line and wants to step up.”
Since Art Jimmerson was submitted by Royce Gracie at UFC 1 in 1993, proponents of Mixed Martial Arts have touted the superiority of wrestling or jiu-jitsu-based fighters over boxing in the street. Since the octagon is supposed to mimic the conditions of a streetfight, it’s inevitable that Couture vs Toney will be marketed as ‘The Boxer’ against ‘The MMA fighter.’ However, just how accurate of a barometer of the superior style will this match prove?
Although James Toney was champion at three weight classes, and would have officially won the heavyweight title against John Ruiz had the fight not been ruled a ‘No-Contest’ due to a positive steroid test, he is 41 years old, and hasn’t won a significant fight cleanly in years. As far as we know, the Michigan pugilist has no wrestling or grappling background, and will pin his hopes on a crash course from Rampage Jackson’s former trainer, Jaunito Ibarra.
“I’m not going to stand around and trade punches,” said Couture of his game plan. “I’ll see if he knows how to stop a double leg.”
James Toney’s debut would have ideally been against a striker like Mirko Cro Cop who would have been happy to stand with him. There will be little credit given to Randy if he wins with a quick submission over Toney, unless the boxer has the courage to return and prove himself over the course of several fights.
The best test of boxing vs MMA would have to involve current stars—however, it makes zero financial sense for any elite boxers like Floyd Mayweather or Vitali Klitschko to give up prime income-earning years to start over and learn the disciplines required for MMA. Seasoned boxers like Frans Botha and Ray Mercer have had mixed success in K-1 and MMA respectively, but they were far removed from their primes before making the transition.
Meanwhile, the epic heavyweight match—American Couture against Russian Fedor Emelianenko—still remains on Couture’s mind. Asked if he still wanted the fight, Couture said yes.
“Sure, if the opportunity arose, but I’m not going to spend my time, money or energy worrying about it.”
Couture’s name still carries a heavy value for fans, and he’s taken very good care of his body. Even at 46, he says that he feels great, and wants to continue to excel in the sport that he loves. Whether or not his fight with James Toney proves anything conclusive about boxing vs MMA, it will be an exciting spectacle, and that’s something many fans will enjoy.