UFC 118 Preview Part 4: Randy Couture vs. James Toney

Boxer James Toney faces MMA legend and UFC Hall of Famer Randy Couture at UFC 118 this Saturday in Boston. It will be James Toney’s first foray into the octagon and Couture’s 29th. The fight will be a part of the UFC 118 card headlined by the Lightweight title rematch between Frankie Edgar and BJ Penn. Also scheduled for UFC 118 are Kenny Florian vs. Gray Maynard and Demian Maia vs. Mario Mirana.

Randy Couture vs. James Toney
UFC Heavyweight Fight
Money Line: Couture -650; Toney +425

Randy Couture (18-10, 10 KOs/Submissions) is one of the most recognizable figures in the history of the UFC. At 47 years old, his in-ring body of work defies logic. He won fans over with 2003 wins over both Tito Ortiz and Chuck Liddell and then shocked the MMA world with consecutive wins over heavyweights Tim Sylvia and Gabriel Gonzaga in 2007. A phenomenal wrestler, Couture was a US Olympic alternate in 1988, ’92, and ’96, the man known as “The Natural” made a seamless transition from Greco-Roman wrestling into the world of mixed martial arts. Inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame in 2006, Couture uses his wrestling ability and Octagon acumen to ground-and-pound many of his opponents into a world of hurt.

James Toney (0-0 MMA/72-6-3, 44 KOs Boxing) has always had an entertaining gift of gab, and he absolutely talked his way into his contract with the UFC. Toney followed UFC President Dana White all around the country, saying whatever it took to get on with the UFC. Probably only to get James Toney to shut up (about working for the UFC at least), Dana White obliged and matched Toney up with grappling expert Randy Couture. Toney has said a lot about what he will and won’t do in the Octagon, but the fact remains that Toney hasn’t been a well-conditioned boxer since the early 90’s. Despite that, Toney has an unbreakable chin and has proven to be one of the best instinctual fighters boxing has seen in a long time. His counter-punching is incredible and the only thing that gives this boxer a puncher’s chance in the fight.

Staff Predictions

Jonathan Kirschner: Throughout numerous interviews, James Toney has not shied away from the fact that he fully intends to keep the fight standing. For a first time boxer turned MMA fighter, defeating an outstanding amateur wrestler would be near impossible; even more so if the wrestler is UFC veteran Randy Couture. I have an incredible amount of respect for James Toney for being the first elite boxer to actually dawn the four-ounce gloves. With that being said, I believe Toney has bit off more than he can chew. As the better striker, James Toney always has a puncher’s chance of knocking Couture out, but I doubt that will happen. Couture will display his superior ground-game and will walk out of UFC 118 as the victor. Randy Couture defeats James Toney via. Submission (exhaustion or strikes) in Round 2.

Paul Magno: Regardless of the outcome of this Saturday’s bout, I’m still of the firm belief that an elite boxer beats an elite MMA competitor 9 out of 10 times. No disrespect intended for MMA, but the boxer’s footwork, balance, and precision would be too much and the MMA fighter’s only real chance would be if the boxer fails to execute. Having said that, neither Toney nor Couture could be labeled “elite” anymore. And Toney, especially, is at least 50 pounds and 15 years from his best days. Picking against Toney in this “boxing vs. MMA showcase” is a safe bet. Toney doesn’t have the speed, footwork, or one-punch power to assert his skills over Couture’s. At this stage of his career, and really, even in his prime, Toney likes to stand up close in the pocket, slip punches and counter. He doesn’t have any of the defining abilities that would make a boxer overcome an MMA fighter. With 4 oz. gloves, Toney has a chance of taking Couture out. After all, if Chuck Liddell could KO Couture, so could Toney. But don’t expect any stand-up from Couture at all. He’ll immediately come for Toney’s legs and probably succeed in taking him down fairly quickly. I’d bet on a one-round ending to this bout with Couture winning via tap out. Now, let’s be men about this and have Couture fight Toney in a boxing ring next. I would then predict a similar first round ending in Toney’s favor.

Chris Roberts: Remember back in February when Randy Couture and Mark Coleman “slow-moed” their way through 6 painful minutes that turned us all into clockwatchers? Well expect more of the same this Saturday when Couture takes on boxing legend James Toney as the one thing we can say with certainty about this bout is that it will not win Fight of the Night honors. Most seem to believe that Couture is simply going to tap dance his way to a submission victory while the more contrarian set out there sees Toney delivering a devastating knockout. I have things a little different as I envision much trepidation from both of them, a few easy enough takedowns for the MMA veteran and ultimately a victory for Couture via decision.

Trent Pusey: Who cares about the fight? Can we just go ahead and skip to the post-fight interview where James Toney is really at his best? I’d rather pay money to hear him talk about how he was cheated, or the referee was racist, or whatever Toney decides to harp on after the fight to explain why he was beaten by the better man, than to actually watch him get beaten by a better man. One of Toney’s best defensive attributes as a boxer is his upper body movement, something that is moot when face-to-face with a wrestler. The fight will go down to the ground where Couture will tire Toney out. After standing them up, Toney will be gassed. He’ll miss a hail mary attempt and Couture will ground and pound his way to a TKO referee stoppage in the first round.

Will Cooling: Randy Couture is rightly the overwhelming favorite going into this fight but there are question marks against The Natural. One is how he will adapt his style to minimize the danger posed by Toney’s hands. Second, to take Toney down Couture will have to move into punching range to engage but can he do that without being caught on the counter? Third, when Couture gets Toney on the ground, will Couture be willing to open up his body to maximize the power of his ground and pound even if this leaves him vulnerable to Toney throwing punches from his back? All these questions have one answer, if Toney was in a boxing match against an opponent of the quality of Randy Couture most would bet against him. Toney’s out of condition, several weight classes above his natural weight and hasn’t defeated a top opponent in years. Couture is smart enough to respect the potential power a pro-boxer can bring to the Octagon, and will do everything he can to minimize the possibility of him being caught. He’ll bide his time and wait for the right moment to shoot for the takedown, with Toney likely to be powerless to defend against it. It may take longer than some expect but I’d be amazed if Toney survives beyond the opening minutes of the second round as Couture earns a 1st round submission.

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