UFC 118: James Toney/Randy Couture Recap

Sep 8, 2010

By Alexia Krause


Boston, MA


Despite his months of relentless bluster, James “Lights Out” Toney is curiously silent now. If only MMA’s fight for respect as a modern and competitive sport were won as easily as Randy “The Natural” Couture made it seem taking down Toney. Toney had been making a stink about fighting in the UFC ever since UFC 106 in Las Vegas, even threatening to show up at Dana White’s house at one point. White was delightfully restrained while recounting the fight to Ariel Helwani of mmafighting.com


Before one can analyze the performance of each fighter, you must first look at the terms of the fight. No one can watch that fight and as a result, determine that James Toney is a poor fighter. It definitely wasn’t a fair fight; Couture in a boxing ring would have been a better match-up (but Couture is too smart for that). Over the past two months, many people have debated whether or not Toney stood a chance against Couture. If Toney was able to stay on his feet, and perhaps practiced some more sprawling technique, he might have stood a chance.


The next logical question to ask then, is why? Why was Toney so outmatched in this new and unfamiliar world of MMA? James Toney was an outstanding boxer. Despite his performance Saturday night; you have to respect his past achievements. Toney has amassed 72 wins over the last 21 years of his boxing career; surely nothing to scoff at.


Despite his impressive boxing record, Toney’s waterloo came in the form of a lack of sprawling/rolling expertise. Let’s say—hypothetically of course— that Toney started training for BJJ a full year prior to his announced desire to fight in the UFC. Still, this would have been a drop in the bucket compared to Couture’s 30+ years in Greco-Roman wrestling and BJJ.


How long was Toney able to stand on his feet, by the way? By my watch, it was about 15 seconds before Couture swept Toney to the mat and began looking for a method of submission. Watching Toney—at this point, flailing on the ground trying to remember how to counter Couture’s grappling—it was really hard to imagine him concocting any method of escape.


To sum up the whole fight in a grotesquely over-simplified manner, this match was like comparing apples and oranges. James Toney was trying to make the argument that boxers are better athletes. Could anyone make that same conclusion about any other two sports? There are a handful of professional bowlers who are in better shape than a decent portion of the MLB. That doesn’t really sound like a fair comparison though, does it?


The point is, it’s not fair to expect Lights Out to perform as well as he thought he would under a foreign set of rules. Over the past two months, there were an unsettlingly large amount of people supporting Toney; too many fanboys claimed he would put Couture’s “Lights Out.” It’s also
important to mention that although trash-talking is pervasive in both MMA and boxing, Couture treated his opponent with respect at all times. Believe it or not, this is one of the founding principles of martial arts philosophy. It’s very likely that Toney wouldn’t look as foolish now had he abstained from some of his smack-talk. Although if that had happened, he wouldn’t really be James Toney now, would he?


Alexia is a contributing author from Your Source 4 Sports. She is happy to be working with MMA Industries, proud suppliers of MMA training equipment to champions around the world. She continues to bring you the latest news in the mixed martial arts world: everything from the most recent fight developments, to the newest MMA shirts.

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