Toney Still Has the Bark, But Lacks Bite Against Couture
Preview by Brady Crytzer
With UFC 118 only days away it appears as though the answer to the Boxing vs. MMA question will finally be answered; unfortunately it will be answered by two 40-something former champions on opposite sides of the athletic spectrum.
James “Lights Out” Toney has been outspoken for the last several months that he wanted to punch his ticket into the Octagon, and when Randy “The Natural” Couture received the call to fight him he was more than happy to accept. What we are left with is a classic battle of striker vs. grappler, each in the twilight of their careers. Though they aren’t exactly fighting for fame and fortune, Couture and Toney will do battle for pride and respect. After a combined professional career spanning over thirty years could we really expect anything less?
Striking: The striking edge in this bout goes, unequivocally, to the man known as “Lights Out.” James Toney has developed a unique style of upper body movement and counter punching that has allowed him to win titles in multiple weight classes and at very different times in his life. His early wars against Roy Jones, Jr. made him a household name, and his later-years against Evander Holyfield and Vasiliy Jirov introduced him to a whole new generation of boxing fans. Randy Couture has elevating his stand-up game, but it often translate as robotic and stiff. Toney will certainly have the more seasoned hands in this showdown.
Toney is a veteran counter-puncher which is a good starting pedigree in the sport of mixed martial arts. He will certainly have a tremendous edge on the feet.
Grappling: As lopsided as the striking contest is, the difference in the grappling equation may be even more drastic. Randy Couture is a decorated wrestler with a wealth of experience; he is, quite literally, a living legend and walking Hall-of-Famer. Couture comes from a Greco-Roman style wrestling background meaning that the majority of his takedowns will be from the body-lock position rather than from shooting in…all of this is bad news for James Toney. While Toney had been training hard with Strikeforce standout “King” Mo Lawal for this fight, he will still be a lifetime behind the former heavyweight and light heavyweight champion Couture.
Randy can-and will-take this fight to the ground at will. All that Toney can do is try to time the Hall-of-Famer coming in with a stiff right hand.
How They Match Up: A good striker can be just what the doctor ordered against a wrestler like Couture, but Toney’s style simply does not translate.
James has wow’ed ringside observes in the squared circle with his ability to plant his feet and avoid damage; Randy Couture has wow’ed cageside observers with his ability to take his opponents to the mat the instant they plant their feet…see a pattern emerging?
Toney has never been known as a KO puncher in his boxing career, but he does have the power to knockout the aging Couture. With that in mind, a Toney victory is not likely.
He will not even make it out of the first round.
Randy Couture is not one to punish his opponent’s unnecessarily as seen in his 2010 victory over Mark Coleman. “The Natural” has taken to simply submitting opponents that he is naturally superior to rather than pounding them into hamburger.
Watch for Randy Couture to submit James Toney in the first round with a rear naked choke (ala Coleman) or a d’arce/anaconda choke (ala Mike Van Arsdale, UFC 54).
This victory could be just the feather in his cap that the forty-something Couture needs to retire on his own terms and leave the sport a champion…
Retirement? Don’t count on it.