James Toney Tries Luck in the Octagon

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James Toney Tries Luck in the Octagon


James Toney has a simple fight plan.  Enter the Octagon, connect on the knockout blow, and go home.  The former boxing champion has 83 fights, but none as a mixed martial artist.  That’ll change in August, when he takes on Randy Couture at UFC 118 in Boston.

It doesn’t seem to bother Toney, taking on one of the greatest fighters in mixed martial art history.  He’s a firm believer in the sports that taken him to where he is today.  Just keep punching, and nothing can happen.

While his fight with Couture will be contested under MMA rules, Toney couldn’t care less.  To him, it’s just another fight, and he promises to utilize his boxing skills to prove a larger point.

“I look at this [fight] as a way to show everybody that boxing ranks supreme,” Toney told ESPN.com recently while in Las Vegas to observe UFC 116. “It’s still the No. 1 sport; it’s still the best sport. I like MMA; I’m not a hater. I watch it all the time.  But when somebody like [UFC president] Dana White, who started in the boxing game, says that MMA is better than boxing — then hold on. You’re wrong there.”

It’s the same attitude that motivated Couture to ask White for the chance to compete against Toney.  Couture loves boxing himself, but disdains the disrespect he believes many boxers show for mixed martial arts.  So that it works both ways: with a martial artist and a fighter, both are fighting for the safekeeping of their sport.

Couture said recently: “The mixed martial artists I know have a ton of respect for boxers and what boxers do.  Most of us train in boxing as part of our mixed martial arts training.  You don’t hear too many mixed martial artists going around, running their mouths about how boring boxing is, which is what we could easily be saying about boxing. On the other side of the coin, you continuously hear boxers running their mouths about how terrible mixed martial artists are with striking and how they’d knock everybody out.”

Couture has no doubt that he’ll win the bout.  After all, the Octagon is his domain, and he refuses to let a boxer dominate.  Should he be able at all to evade Toney’s punches, and get him onto the floor, he feels it will be synch to grab the victory off a submission.

There’s little denying his requisite skill set, and confidence with a variety of fighting disciplines.  The same can’t be said for Toney.  Toney has never competed in wrestling, Muay Thai, jiu-jitsu or kickboxing.  He’ll have to rely on his hands, but is confident that will be enough to get the job done. 

“In [MMA] you have people like Randy Couture who are scared, and will try to hold me like a girl,” said Toney.  “I’m going to make him pay for that. Everybody knows that if you’re inside on me, one mistake and that’s your ass.”

He added: “Did y’all tell Randy Couture that I’m wearing smaller gloves? What do you think is going through his head right now? ‘How am I going to stay away from his hands?’ That’s what he’s thinking.”

And that is what he’s thinking.  He knows Toney is a skilled fighter whose assets are going to increase with the light, five-ounce MMA gloves. 

“He’s a great striker; he’s got good power,” Couture admitted.  “To be honest, he’s going to be dangerous in that realm of the fight.  If I try to trade punches with him, then [getting knocked out] is a possibility. That’s why I’m doing my homework, and have no intention of standing in there and boxing with James Toney. That would be stupid.”

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