Pros Pick: Couture vs. Toney

Pros Pick

By Mike Sloan Aug 28, 2010
Randy Couture file photo:

The Ultimate Fighting Championship turns back its clock to its primitive years with a traditional martial artist-versus-boxer showdown, as Randy Couture meets James Toney at UFC 118 “Edgar vs. Penn 2” on Saturday at the TD Garden in Boston. recently caught up with dozens of professional trainers and fighters to gauge their opinions on the fight:

Adam Singer: I think that only the bookies want us to believe this is a real fight -- an over-the-hill boxer vs. “The Natural.” Are you kidding me? I have Randy by vicious ground-and-pound inside of one round.

Javier Vazquez: I think the James Toney-Randy Couture fight will answer many questions. Can a pro boxing champion be successful in MMA? How much longer can Randy Couture fight, even against what could be considered overmatched competition? How durable is Couture’s chin if touched by a pro boxer? Can Toney stop any of Couture’s takedown attempts? What would happen if Toney wins? I do think that a boxer can do well in MMA, but it depends on their boxing style and their willingness to learn a completely different sport. Because of Toney’s age, I don’t think that he has the proper amount of time to make significant strides and develop a solid MMA game. Even if Toney puts in all the required time and effort to learn the fundamentals of MMA, Father Time is against him. Let’s face it; we all get old, and Randy, although seeming super human, is human, too, and he is getting older. He might be due for a bad performance sooner or later. Hopefully “Captain America” has at least one more great fight in him. The gameplan for Couture is simple -- establish a clinch, take Toney down and either submit him or pound him out until the ref steps in and stops the bout. Couture is a grizzled veteran. He has been fighting for many years and has taken many hard shots. Some he survived (Rizzo); some he did not (Lesnar and Liddell). Randy’s primary concern when fighting James Toney is simple. Don’t get hit. Don’t dance around and box; get to the clinch as soon as possible and finish the fight. Toney might be able to stop one of Couture’s takedown attempts, but what most newcomers to MMA don’t understand about wrestling is that just because you might stop the primary attempt does not mean that the attacker cannot switch the takedown to something else. It’s called chain wrestling, and Couture is a master at it. He will figure out how to take Toney down. Another key point is that boxers don’t understand that once you plant your feet to strike, you lose your defensive wrestling ability. Even seasoned MMA fighters with wrestling backgrounds get taken down by opponents (i.e. Josh Koscheck and Dan Henderson, to name a few). If Toney wins, it could open up the floodgates to other boxers that were interested in pursuing a career in MMA. This is good. We will, however, have to listen to Toney talk for the rest of our lives about how he beat a legend and how boxing is superior. This is bad. I see this fight ending in the first round via ground-and-pound or submission for Randy Couture.

Jeff Monson: Couture by ground-and-pound TKO.

Rory Markham: I’m definitely going with Randy on this one. James is one of my favorite boxers of all time, not to mention one of the very best, but Randy has proven time and again that having a diverse arsenal is the key to success in MMA. Randy is the best in the sport at developing a winning strategy and adhering to it. Randy via TKO, referee stoppage.

Jason Lambert: Randy by TKO.

Roland Sarria: Randy will close the distance right away and pin Toney against the cage. Randy will take Toney down and go into ground-and-pound [mode], and Toney will tap [in the] first round.

Ricardo Liborio: Couture can win by submission, fighting only with one hand.

Kultar Gill: Randy by ground-and-pound beatdown.

Frank Shamrock: James goes down in round one. Randy doesn’t break a sweat, and they laugh all the way to the bank.

Josh Thomson: James Toney by one-punch knockout, because that’s what he’s gonna need to win this fight (laughs).

Travis Lutter: I think it’s a good fight for Randy. It’s a fight where Toney has a puncher’s chance, but I see Randy winning it, possibly by submission. No way he can keep Randy from taking him down, and once there, there’s no chance of getting back up.

Mike Whitehead: I have Randy by first-round TKO.

Cung Le: Randy by ground-and-pound.

Ben Saunders: Randy takes him down easy in round one and wins via submission or ref stoppage due to strikes.

Eddy Millis: As far as Couture versus Toney [goes], I thought Toney might be a little prepared. But after watching that video of him training, punching one focus mitt and someone waiving a pool floaty at him, I was shocked. Couture is gonna smother him, put him down and give him a brutal awakening to the world of MMA.

Tom Vaughn: Every time the outcome of a fight seems painfully obvious, I start thinking something weird is gonna happen. On paper, it doesn’t seem like even a boxer as great as James Toney has a chance against a mixed martial artist with the experience of Randy Couture, but there is something about Toney’s confidence that has me curious. He watches MMA, he likes MMA, he’s been training MMA only a short while, and I still don’t see a shred of doubt in him. Just a grazing punch from a boxer of his level could send Randy Couture to the hospital. If he is cautious with his punches, keeps his feet moving and doesn’t allow himself to get pushed into the cage, I think James Toney can shock the world. For the sake of MMA, I sincerely hope not, but I’m gonna be one of probably four people that predict him to win. James Toney by KO in round one.

George Sotiropoulos: Couture by whatever and however he wants.

Sam Hoger: James Toney is about to get embarrassed by Randy Couture. Unless James pulls off a Ray Mercer-versus-Tim Sylvia lucky shot, he will get handled like a sock puppet and thrown away in the same breath. That’s putting it nicely.

Nam Phan: I think Randy will confuse James Toney by asking him a complicated question and, while Toney is distracted, knock him out. In all seriousness, it will be wise for Randy to quickly take Toney down and work for the ground-and-pound and win by TKO or submission.

Robin Black: Man, James Toney is gonna smash Randy’s face. When Randy comes in, James will throw that big uppercut and knock him out before he tries to lay on him, proving once and for all that boxing is better than MMA and Toney really is “The Ultimate Fighter.” Just kidding. Toney has no chance. He’s a fool. Randy wins [in] round one via dirty boxing on the fence followed by ground-and-pound on the mat. Boxing is a great sport, but James Toney -- incredible boxing talent that he is -- is kind of an idiot.

Ryan White: I think randy will walk him back against the cage, clinch him with a bit of dirty boxing then take him down and work some ground-and-pound, taking the win by TKO in round one.

Billy MacDonald: Randy will fake a shot knowing that Toney is looking for it and land an overhand right, then move into the clinch and work from there briefly before dumping Toney on his head. The only part I wonder about is whether Randy would want to apply a choke or armbar to end it quickly or put a little ground-and-pound on him to finish. Either way, Randy avoids Toney’s power and walks away with the W.

Mike Ciesnolevicz: I must admit I’m a James Toney fan as a boxer, but he is way over his head here. Randy Couture is possibly the worst matchup for him in the UFC, other than Cain Velasquez or Brock Lesnar. If Randy Couture is foolish enough to box with James Toney, we will never hear the end of James Toney’s mouth. The likely scenario here is Randy Couture body locks Toney, slams him on his head and mounts him, where he finishes with strikes or a rear choke after Toney gets desperate. Randy’s skillset in the top position will be a nightmare for Toney. I am 100 percent confident I can beat James Toney in under two minutes, so I see no other scenario where Randy Couture, one of the UFC’s greatest champions, wouldn’t do the exact same.
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