Whether you’re a boxing or an MMA fan, you surely have heard by now that James “Lights Out” Toney has signed to fight MMA veteran Randy Couture on UFC 118. This article is written by a boxing devotee, but may be of interest to the MMA set as well.
I am 99 percent sure that James Toney is going to lose to Randy Couture on August 28th in Boston, Mass. Toney says that he’s going to strike a blow for boxing – he’s just going to walk into the octagon and knock Couture on his kiester, Lights Out. It’s hard to believe that Toney could be so delusional as to think that he’ll actually win. He may just be grandstanding because he knows that his boxing career is over and this is his last chance to be relevant.
I know that the reader already understands intuitively that Toney can’t win, even if he isn’t sure why Toney can’t win. But I’m going to explain it anyway, just in case by some miracle Toney’s eyes fall upon this page.
It’s like this: Toney (right) is a crafty boxer with fair power and good fight instincts, but this isn’t a fight – it’s an MMA match, and that isn’t Toney’s game. Toney is accustomed to a sport in which the rules only permit striking with the hands, only from the waist up, and only to the front and sides of the body. Couture’s striking will be no match for Toney’s, but Couture has several alternate strategies to fall back on, while Toney has none. The first time Couture gets close enough to sink his hooks into Toney, it’s going to get ugly fast – Couture is liable to turn Toney into a chubby pretzel. Furthermore, at 42 years old the notoriously lazy Toney is an out-of-shape and completely spent shadow of his former self, while Couture – despite being 47 years old – is a recent title holder in tremendous physical condition, competing in his own sport.
The circumstance we find ourselves in now is something akin to a washed-up baseball player being invited to play tennis at Wimbledon, merely because he’s got years of experience swinging a piece of wood at a little ball. And yet, there is just the outside chance. It’s the proverbial “puncher’s chance,” which admittedly gets you farther in boxing and MMA than it does in tennis. If Toney can keep Couture at bay with a busy jab, and use the jab to set up a fast combination (Toney can still move the hands when he needs to), he could turn his 1% chance into a 100% win. Then what a headache UFC chairman Dana White would have!
If you think that the hardbodied Couture and the marshmallow-soft Toney make an odd couple, take a look at Toney and Dana White. Randy Couture is one of the principals in this bout, but in the big picture he’s really only a secondary figure. His job of squashing an overripe plum could probably be performed by any one of a dozen MMA combatants. It’s James Toney and Dana White who constitute the real mismatch here. And yet the marriage between Toney and White could be made more agreeable by their shared religion (the worship of self) and by the prospect of a buttload of money (for Toney) and publicity (for White).
At least it could be so for a while. For Toney, whose weight has ranged from a slim 160# to a grotesque 236#, is incurably lazy and doesn’t like to work out or eat right. He mumbles and he slurs. Even if you understand his speech, you’ll be lucky to make sense of his meaning. In a nutshell, James Toney is everything from which the UFC, ostensibly populated by serious, tough, cerebral, renaissance men and women, has tried to distance itself. White seems to have realized this after agreeing to the match, and has subsequently tried to distance himself from Toney. Despite the mountains of cash his outfit stands to collect from UFC 118, White has remarked on his regret at having made the match, has called Toney’s participation in MMA a “freakshow,” and admitted that he looks forward to Couture’s destruction of the bloated and uncouth Toney.
In the end, that may be the best reason to bet that Toney will lose to Couture: Dana White always seems to get what he wants. We Americans may believe that truth and justice will prevail in the end, but we’re also realists. We know that in the short term, the villain always prospers.