Randy Couture file photo : Sherdog.com
James Toney’s UFC career appears over as quickly as it began.
The 42-year-old IBA heavyweight boxing champion had an unbridled tongue when it came to promoting his “MMA vs. Boxing” bout against UFC hall of famer Randy Couture at UFC 118 “Edgar vs. Penn 2” on Saturday in Boston, but lacked all the necessary goods to back up his talk once the Octagon door swung closed.
Couture, 47, wasted no time grounding the 20-pounds heavier Toney with a single-leg shot, glided to mount, peppered him with punches and elbows, then twice applied an arm-triangle choke which his overwhelmed opponent had no answer for. Referee Mario Yamasaki rushed in to halt the bout 3:19 of the first round.
For all his bluster, Toney never got the chance to throw a single punch on his feet.
“It’s been a fun ride with James. It’s been very interesting. He’s a nutty guy,” said UFC President Dana White on Saturday.
White, who’d in the past described his signing the boisterous pugilist to a one-fight deal like it was an impulse buy, did his best to diffuse any perceived animosity between the two combat sports.
“Toney lasted longer than I thought he would actually,” said White. “It’s unfair to bring in a guy with one discipline no matter if he’s trained eight or nine months. I wasn’t the guy going out and trying to bad-mouth boxing and take boxing down and hurt the sport of boxing. James Toney picked a fight and he got one.”
Known for his air-tight strategies, Couture played the odds on Saturday and came up flush.
“I had no illusions of standing around and trading any kind of blows with James,” said Couture, a collegiate All-American wrestler for Oklahoma State University and four-time Olympic alternate. “I had to pull out the old low single from college and dust it off. I spent the whole camp working on that low shot because it’s pretty hard to counter-punch that.”
Couture said an experienced grappler would have been able to avoid the shot, something he didn’t count on with Toney.
The six-time UFC champion, who debuted against former pro wrestler Tony Halme at UFC 13 in 1997, said he also too stock in Toney’s choice to wear heavy ankle braces on both feet.
“The first thing I noticed when I got into the cage and kind of settled in was that he was wearing those things on his feet,” said Couture. “A huge thing with shooting a low single is you’re used to doing it against wrestlers when they’re wearing shoes ‘cause it’s something that I can grip, so when he had those things on his feet, I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be better. I have something I can grip.’”
Couture said he got little indication that Toney had any ground experience once the bout hit the canvas.
“I didn’t feel like he demonstrated any solid skills once he hit his butt,” said Couture. “He didn’t close his guard. He didn’t protect himself that well; I was able to maneuver and get to mount pretty easily. From mount I knew he had no idea-- I could hear his corner yelling at him…but he was more interested in trying to butt me in the head from his back.”
Couture said he’d respectfully decline boxing promoter Dan Goossen’s invitation to meet Toney in a boxing ring. In his answer, the always respectful Couture voiced what many were thinking after watching Toney’s ill-advised turn on Saturday.
“It would be as silly as I think it is for James to jump into mixed martial arts the way he did here and I think it would go about the same way,” said Couture. “James would probably knock me out in the first round.”