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James Toney Vs Randy Couture: UFC 118 Presents Boxing Vs MMA … Sort Of

By Geno McGahee

There is a consistent comparison between boxing and the MMA, and there is also a lot of animosity between the fans of both. Usually when somebody is talking about one, they mention the other, stating that it is better for one reason or another. Fantasy matches are made pitting the best in boxing against the best in mixed martial arts, and arguments are made on both sides as to who would win and why.

When Dennis Alexio was ruling the world of kickboxing, he would challenge Mike Tyson to a fight whenever he could, but it was two different sports and it would be hard for Tyson to deal with kicks and hard for Alexio to deal without them. The winner would be dependant on the rules and the same goes for this MMA vs. Boxing war.

James “Lights Out” Toney is a legend in boxing, but his star has dimmed considerably over time and to some, it is completely extinguished. His mediocre in ring performances coupled with the positive tests for steroids have made him a non player in boxing and that has opened up another option to the former middleweight, super middleweight, and cruiserweight champion.

The MMA is good at marketing and knows what sells. It’s been proven time and time again. Kimbo Slice, as limited as he is, brought in major ratings and is nearly a household name, and Brock Lesnar, a legitimate talent, was a huge name for the UFC due to his long and popular run in the WWE. Pro wrestlers usually have a wrestling background and having that is more beneficial then having boxing skills. This is why you will see a former wrestler do better than a boxer nine out of ten times.

Toney is a boxer and what hurts him going into this MMA showdown with Randy Couture outside of inexperience and the fact that he is facing a quality opponent, is that he has never been a fighter that fights a full three minutes of the round. He plays defense, ducking and deflecting the incoming, which is something that he can do in a boxing ring, but in the octagon, he cannot rest for a moment. Couture is not going to try to knock him out. He’s going to try to make him submit and he will try to do that on the ground. Toney has to avoid that but at 42 years of age and the beating he’s given his body over the years, it’s hard to imagine him being able to move effectively and land effectively against the seasoned Couture.

Couture has an MMA record of 18-10, 7 KO’s, 3 submissions, and on paper, the record is not that impressive. By boxing standards, he would be a journeyman status fighter, but this is a different deal. Couture is a 3-Time UFC Heavyweight Champion and a 2-Time Light Heavyweight Champion also of the UFC. He has competed in 15 title fights and has an extensive wrestling background. At 47, he is old by any standards when it comes to combat sports, but he showed that he could hang with a monster like Brock Lesnar for a while before getting stopped and recently choked out Mark Coleman, and will be looking for the same sort of victory against Toney.

Some have pointed to the age of Couture and his recent role in THE EXPENDABLES as a distraction big enough to give Toney a solid chance come Saturday night at UFC 118, but Toney’s been in 81 boxing matches with a record of 72-6-3, 44 KO’s, and from all indications is a shot fighter.

In one of his recent fights, he eked by journeyman Danny Batchelder with a split decision win and was given a gift decision over Fres Oquendo in a fight he clearly lost. He tried to use his personality to land a title shot, but it went nowhere. No boxing fan would take him as a serious threat to beat a top 10 fighter, let alone the Klitschko brothers. His time as an attraction in boxing was over, so the UFC stepped in and was happy to take him aboard.

The talk from Toney is still there and he is still at the top of his game when it comes to hyping a fight, and some have actually stated that he has a chance to win, and he does, but it is a huge long shot.

Toney is not a big puncher at heavyweight, and you have to figure that he will have one opportunity to land and knock Couture out as he comes in for the legs. Toney will jab and try to unload the right hand, but his diminished reflexes displayed in recent outings in the boxing ring will not be better when he steps into a cage. He will miss the right hand and be on his back before he knows it and then it is just a matter of time.

This fight will be similar to the Kimbo Slice – Ray Mercer. Mercer, up there in age, could not handle a guy with limited talent, but MMA training. He was beaten quickly and the tough as nails Mercer that was able to go 10 rounds with Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis, taking huge shots, was choked out and tapped out. Those saying that Toney will not submit will be proven wrong. Toney will have no choice.

UFC 118 will sell well with this added novelty match and it will attract boxing fans. I am a boxing fan and I watch very little of MMA, but this fight has gained my attention. I believe that many boxing fans will rent this fight with the hope that the old warrior can land and win one for pugilism, but this is not Toney’s sport. This is not our sport as boxing fans. Toney has to worry about all sorts of new things that he has never seen before and when he’s down, he’s done.

UFC 118 is not Boxing vs. MMA. It’s a former boxer trying to make money and compete in mixed martial arts under their rules, and against a very good and established force in Couture. MMA wins this Saturday night, but not over boxing, but over one over the hill boxer in Toney. When the display starts, don’t go to the fridge. I give this fight one minute or so before Toney is sitting on his stool, trying to come up with a reason why he didn’t win. Boxers don’t do well in the MMA typically and vice versa. They are two different animals all together.

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