I along with many other people scoffed and scorned when news broke that the UFC had signed aging pro boxer James “Lights Out” Toney to a fight with UFC legend and former Light Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture. My strongest initial reaction consisted of little more than “Randy Couture + Takedowns = Win”. That belief, that Couture’s wrestling will be far too much for James Toney to handle, seems to be the one almost everyone is betting on. But now that their showdown is little more than a month away, I find myself leaning towards “Lights Out” more and more.
One of my biggest reasons for this drastic change in opinion is the simple fact that Randy Couture hasn’t looked all that great in his recent return to the Octagon. Couture will always be one of the most talented men to have ever stepped inside of the Octagon, and you’ll never see me try to argue that. But the ageless wonder is beginning to show his age. Couture is 2-2 in his most recent stint inside the UFC, and even his two wins honestly didn’t impress me. In the Brandon Vera fight, he edged out a really close (but Unanimous) decision win that I know for a fact many fans disagreed with. In the Mark Coleman fight, Coleman showed up demoralized and a ghost of his former self. I truly believe that Coleman had lost that fight before he ever stepped inside the Octagon. In fact, I would be willing to bet anything that if anyone else in the world with even one-fourth of Couture’s talent had taken Couture’s place against the Mark Coleman that showed up at UFC 109, that person would have beaten Coleman just as decisively.
Also, let’s not forget that six of his ten career losses have come from the hands of his opponents: FIVE (T)KO’s and one submission due to strikes. Couture has been on the receiving end of several highlight-reel knockouts, and in three of his last four fights, all of his opponents came close to stopping him (only current UFC Heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar proved able to). With that fact firmly in your head, take the following into consideration: James Toney has been boxing professionally for over twenty years! And in those twenty years, he’s lost only six times. No matter how crazy you think he sounds in his interviews or how doomed to failure you think he may be, the man has an astonishing forty-four knockouts on his pro boxing resume. Most people admit that Toney has a “puncher’s chance”, when what they really mean is that Toney only has a shot at winning this fight is if he gets extremely lucky. Newsflash, people: it’s only going to take one punch. If Toney lands decently even once, he’ll do more than daze Couture. He’ll knock him clean out.
Plus Couture has never had pure knockout power, and if his recent fights are any indicator, his punching power is actually starting to go down. Add to all that the fact that Toney has never been (T)KO’d once. Not a single time. In over twenty tears. Couture will always have his dominant wrestling to fall back on, but consider this fact as well: this is going to be a Heavyweight fight, and Couture has always been a small Heavyweight. Toney will more than likely show up to this fight heavier than Couture, meaning that Couture will have to work hard and consistently work hard to score his takedowns. If Toney can make Couture work for every single takedown, that opens Couture up for more and more counter-punches. And that’s the beauty of this fight: Toney has fifteen minutes to land only one punch.
Some people think that the odds of Toney winning are ludicrous. I think the odds of Toney not landing one good punch in the span of fifteen minutes are ludicrous. It’ll send shockwaves up and down the MMA landscape, but 2010 has been the year of the epic upset. And Randy Couture is getting knocked out.
But that’s all my opinion, fans and friends. How do you see this fight going down?