Just two weeks away from his UFC debut, James Toney
continues to send mixed signals about his mixed martial arts training and respect for the sport as he prepares to fight MMA legend Randy Couture
Toney, who took part in a Thursday conference call to hype the UFC 118
co-main event, used some of his Q&A time to discount Couture's chances and skills, dismiss various parts of the MMA game and simply recite his boxing resume to explain why he'd win.
The multi-time, multi-divisional boxing champion offered little in the way of specifics in regards to the work he's been putting in for his first foray into his new sport, instead offering on multiple occasions that he was "born to win" and that "James don't lose."
"You'll see James do what he does best and that's knock his head off," Toney said. "You know, like I said, I'm not worried about whatever Randy's going to do. Randy's going to be Randy, James will be James, you know what I'm saying? Whatever happens, happens. But you know what, I'm winning, point blank, hands down. If he decides to get close to me, he knows it's a wrap for him."
While Toney has the utmost confidence in his punching ability ("If I hit him, he ain't getting up"), he had little to say about the other aspects of putting together a complete MMA game, a task which would be nearly impossible in the short time he's had to prepare even under the best of circumstances.
When asked how some of Couture's skills like wrestling and takedowns would change the complexion of the fight, Toney had little to offer but one-liners.
"Randy's good at what he does, I'm great at what I do," he said. "Now he's talking about he's going to lay on top of me? God bless him, but I ain't no female so I ain't going down like that. He's getting knocked out."
Later, when MMA Fighting asked Toney if he's enjoyed adding kicking to his striking game, he bristled, "kicking is for girls," before suggesting that grappling has been his easiest transition, saying, "it's like it came naturally to me."
Toney claimed that he's been training for almost 11 months though he didn't name any trainers or partners. MMA Fighting reported in June
that Toney's camp was being helmed by Trever Sherman at the M-1 Global USA Training Center in California.
Toney also trained with Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt Dean Lister for a time, though it appears that union was short-lived.
"It's not how much you learn but how fast you learn," he said. "I'm ready to go. Whatever, wherever, it doesn't matter. I'm born to win. Check my record, check my DNA."
Meanwhile, most of the boxing establishment has changed their tune on the boxing vs. MMA argument with the fight nearing. Among the recent converts is the legendary Philadelphia fighter Bernard Hopkins, who recently told Mauro Ranallo on The Fight Show
that he's converted from MMA hater to fan, and says he thinks Toney has no chance.
"James Toney is out of his league," he said. "James Toney is James Toney in boxing. You've got to bow down when it comes to that. His record speaks for itself. He does well, more than well in boxing. But when you go against a legend in his own sport, I believe that the best MMA or UFC guy goes up against the best boxer in the world in their arena ... He's going to get his ass kicked. Whether it's Floyd, Pacquiao or Bernard Hopkins. It's not what we do."
Not surprisingly, Toney fired back.
"I don't care about the boxing community," he said. "I care about James Toney. It's about James Toney and Randy Couture. It's not about James Toney and boxing."
For all his bluster though, Toney did credit Couture for stepping up to fight him after claiming that he "can't get a fight with anyone in boxing" despite having been "on top of the world for 10 years." (Toney is the current heavyweight champion of the IBA, an organization not considered among the more prestigious sanctioning bodies in the boxing world.)
Couture, meanwhile, sat back as almost an impartial observer, bluntly stating that he doesn't plan to engage Toney for long at his own game, as well as saying he does not feel the pressure of carrying the mantle for MMA against boxing.
"You know, I don't really choose to plug into that kind of pressure," he said. "I think the sport's going to be fine regardless of the outcome of this fight. You know, we've been expanding globally and the sport's really taken off, so I don't feel any extra pressure in that circumstance. I've been out there representing the sport of mixed martial arts in a lot of ways for a long, long time so that's nothing new. This is a little different circumstance. Before it was because nobody understood who we were or what we did and why we got in a cage to fight, and now it's just, you know, the technical engagement of mixed martial arts versus predominately a boxer."